By Jo Rittey


I wasn’t expecting my eyes to well up with tears when I set about reviewing Matt Goulding’s Grape, Olive, Pig, and yet they did. Good tears. Tears that came from feeling completely caught up in the story of Matt’s unfolding love affair with Spain, its food, and, most romantically, with his now wife, Laura.


I might have mentioned it before in this column, but I often get ideas in my head about things, run with the (wrong) idea and then later kick myself for having taken so long to get to something wonderful. I do it with cafes when I think they’re too cool for their own good and I can’t be bothered with the hype and then I go and I have to eat my words and concede that the hype is there for a reason. Or I do it with apps that I think are just too hipster. Uber Eats? Nah, that sounds like a ridiculous idea. Oh so you mean I can get food from my favourite restaurants delivered to my door? Um. Ok.


I have just done exactly the same thing with Grape, Olive, Pig. I thought it was going to be just another food book; a fancy food writer’s jaunt around Spain with an illustrated account of all the amazing food he ate along the way. So the book sat there, waiting for me to get around to reading it. And once I did, I couldn’t put it down.


Matt Goulding is a writer; a real writer. He manages to weave together a very personal and completely compelling love story with a vivid portrait of a country, its history, crucial pieces of advice for the traveller, and a whole lot of mouthwatering food.


The author of Rice, Noodle, Fish and chief editor of next-generation travel, food, music and journalism platform, Roads and Kingdoms, celebrates the culture and cuisine of Spain in this beautifully illustrated food-centred travel guide. Experience the key regions of Spain as never before.


As Anthony Bourdain says in a letter to Matt Goulding, included at the start of the book, “You live in Barcelona. Who doesn’t want to live in Barcelona? You had the good sense to marry a Spaniard – which means, in my limited experience, that you often come home to find an ibérico ham casually deposited on the kitchen counter next to a knife. You are on close terms with Juan at that incredible counter in the Boqueria. You go out for dinner at midnight, start drinking again at noon, nap around three, nibble on olives and little bits of awesomeness when you rise, and pretty much live the dream.”


A warning, though, this is not a recipe book. It is a very beautiful insider’s guide to Spain and I defy you not to get at least a little misty-eyed when you read it.


ISBN: 9781743793176

Format: Hardback


RRP: $40.00

Publisher: Hardie Grant Books

Published: 01 February 2017




Jo is a French teacher, a freelance writer and loves cooking lamb shanks. Armed with a PhD in Medieval French Literature, an exotic New Zealand accent and a winning (hopefully) smile, she likes nothing better than sharing a meal and good conversation with friends.

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