Everything but the Squeal
Eating the Whole Hog in Northern Spain
By John Barlow
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Hardcover, 9780374150105, 320pp.)
Publication Date: October 28, 2008
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John Barlow, self-confessed glutton, found himself in a tricky situation: living in one of the most meat-loving places on earth, married to a vegetarian. The Barlows live in Galicia, the misty-green northwest corner of Spain, and home to a population that reveres and consumes every part of the pig. This gets Barlow thinking about the nature of our relationship with food—what’s delicious, what’s nasty, and what sort of obligation we have to the animals we eat. Over the course of one glorious, bilious year, Barlow vows to eat everything but the squeal. In his travels, Barlow takes part in the thousand-year-old antthrowing festival of Laza. He makes pig-bladder puddings for carnival. He washes down lots of pork with lots of wine.In the tradition of Calvin Trillin and Anthony Bourdain, Everything but the Squeal is an adventure in extreme eating, a hilariously quirky travel book, and a perceptive look at how what we eat makes us who we are.
JOHN BARLOW studied English literature at Cambridge. He is the author of a collection of novellas, Eating Mammals, which won a Paris Review Discovery Prize, and the novel Intoxicated, which has been translated into four languages. He lives in Spain with his wife and son.
“The attraction of Barlow’s book is that he goes well beyond the business of eating. He gives us a fascinating journal of his Galician wanderings . . . What comes through is a deep affection not just for Galicia’s pigs . . . but also for Galicia’s people and culture.” —The Economist
“With good humor and shameless enthusiasm, [Barlow] has written a delicious meat mash note.” —Gilbert Cruz, Time
“[Barlow] has revealed himself to be an amiable, curious, and uncomplaining guide.” —Barbara Fisher, The Boston Globe
“A person clever enough to make his way in this world by traveling, pigging out and then writing of such difficult duty might arouse a bit of envy among armchair travelers, but Barlow is so unabashedly in love with almost all things porcine (though maybe not trotters, feet or botelo, ‘smashed-up vertebrae and other stuff’ boiled in a bag of intestines) that rambling the countryside with him is a mouthwatering adventure . . . Whether cruising tapas bars, enjoying small-town festivals, sampling rural roadhouse specialties or farmers’ home-grown provisions, Barlow manages to eat pretty much the whole hog—even brains and heart, if not genitals—with an admirably old-fashioned passion for one of life’s prime joys.” —Irene Wanner, Los Angeles Times
“Perhaps even more satisfying than his madcap extreme eating and cooking experiences are Barlow's quotable observations about Galicians.” —Ben Schmerler, New York Post
“Self-confessed glutton, travel writer and novelist Barlow (Eating Mammals; Intoxicated) doesn’t scrimp on either culinary or cultural delights in this charmingly informative and witty narrative . . . Barlow serves up vivid tales encountered during the year dedicated to his “porco-graphical tour.” But this tale is more than a culinary treat. Barlow is a companionable guide expounding upon history, traditions and the personalities of Galicia. His writing style is quick, lively and filled with delicious details. He takes readers on a sublime journey of the senses.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“A savory travelogue with insights that go beyond taste and texture . . . Barlow is a writer first and foremost, not just another foodie looking for a publisher to pick up his tapas tab . . . [He] embraces his adopted culture with affectionate and knowing ribbing.” —Kirkus Reviews
“John Barlow has written a most compelling and delicious book . . . [Everything but the Squeal] is not only an amusing and thoughtful journal of one man’s search for meaning in pork, but also a warm look at the foods, customs, personalities and history of the Galician people . . . This is a fine and noteworthy addition to any serious Spanish food library, and a must-read for anyone contemplating a trip into this green corner of Spain.” —James Mellgren, The Gourmet Retailer
“Splendid porky tales.” —Fergus Henderson, director/chef of St. John Bar and Restaurant and author of The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating
“Books like John Barlow’s delightful Everything but the Squeal are often more important to a chef than actual cookbooks. It is impossible to cook even the most personal food without understanding the origins of a region’s traditions. Barlow writes with considerable wit, and he perfectly captures how connected Galicians are to their landscape and culture. His tales remind me of so many of the wonderful surprises I have encountered while pursuing great food throughout Spain. You start out looking for one particular experience, and end up with life-changing adventures. And you have to love a guy who just wants to raise a son willing to share a ham sandwich.” —Alex Raij, former chef of Tía Pol and El Quinto Pino
“Galicia cradles the village of Cervantes, ancestral origin of the family that produced Spain’s greatest novelist, but the creature arguably dearest to natives of Galicia is the pig. This ancient land, now Spain’s northwest quadrant, reveres the pig and makes diligent use of every part of the animal . . . Barlow introduces readers to some remarkable contemporary Galicians, including Fidel Castro’s cousin.” —Mark Knoblauch, Booklist
Praise for Eating Mammals:
“Big-hearted and richly imagined.” —Henry Alford, The New York Times Book Review
“If Edward Gorey and Flannery O’Connor were to collaborate on a book of fiction, it might wind up a lot like Eating Mammals.” —Newsday