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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Grape Olive Pig book review

Author Matt Goulding is in love with Spain, and it shows. It’s where he has a home with his Spanish wife and where he has the perfect “insider/outsider” status to dig deep. A James Beard award winning food and travel writer, it’s easy to get seduced by his prose, as he covers a mix of food, people and places. He’s genuinely enthusiastic which almost always makes for a good subject and a great book. 

In Grape Olive Pig, Goulding takes readers all over Spain. But it’s anything but a typical trip. In addition to stories, he uses graphics and lists to take his experience and turn it into tips for the would be traveler. In each location he tells the stories of the locals—from chefs to shepherds and a few family members too. In Salamanca it’s about processing pigs, in Valencia it’s the story of rice, in Cadiz it’s about tuna. Each story is personal, told with history and details that pull you in. It’s a new kind of travel guide packed with both plenty of practical information and yet, a focus on the people and places in a way that is so much more than a simple itinerary. In a way, I’m glad that most of the places he writes about are ones I haven’t yet to experience. He provides the perfect introduction. 

If you want to drink like a local, and eat like a local, this is your book. It covers traditional artisanal foods like conservas, and the most modern traditions like drinking the Spanish "gin tonic." You may not be friends with Jose Andres, but Goulding is. Not surprisingly this is part of the Anthony Bourdain curated imprint at Harper Collins. The book has the same gutsiness that Bourdain is known for, but it’s a much deeper experience than you find in a television travel show. And still the result is the same, you will want to go to Spain and experience it in all its glory. On the flip side, Goulding is such a good writer, the book is transporting, so that even though you may not have a trip to Spain planned, you can feel as if you are there. 

Disclaimer: I received an uncorrected proof of this book for review purposes. I was not compensated monetarily for this or any other post. This post does include an affiliate link.