Everything But The Squeal by John Barlow

     The cult of the pig is live and well, but odd – it manifests itself someplace everythingother than North Carolina.  Really, you say?  Oh yes – here in our microcosm of barbecue culture, we tend to forget that the noble hog is eaten and enjoyed and yes, even revered in places such as the damp corner of northwestern Spain known as Galicia.

     Galicia is one of those places for which “unique” is not a strong-enough word.  It’s nothing like the stereotypical Spain of arid weather and matadors.  The province is rainy, largely rural, and its people speak a language that’s closer to Portuguese than Spanish.  And, their cuisine is idiosyncratic and strongly swine-centric.

     The author, who is English and lives in Galicia, makes it his goal to sample every part of the pig, which he does with extensive travel throughout the province.  Beyond the staples of ham and ribs (and the hams over there sound heavenly) Barlow’s eating adventures get stranger.  His descriptions are unabashedly visceral and not for the squeamish, but even if eating pork in all its formats is not your cup of tea,  Everything but the Squeal is highly enjoyable with its travelogue feel; it’s entertainingly written, funny, and chock-full of Galician history and culture, but unsparing of the gruesome – consider the chapter “Dirty Day in Laza” to experience pork lust at its most extreme. 

     Good old North Carolina pig pickings seem really tame by comparison, but I’ll stick with them just the same.

(William Hicks, Information Services)

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