Some of the most interesting of these new releases have a strong regional bent. In Pig: King of the Southern Table (John Wiley & Sons, $35), North Carolina native James Villas plays Dixie compadre to Fergus Henderson. The book celebrates every part of the animal; a recipe for hog's head stew calls for the liver, heart, spleen, kidney, ear, and, yes, head (as for the brains, Villas recommends saving them to scramble with eggs). Pig's 300 recipes—which crisscross the map from Smithfield, Virginia (country ham spread), to Miami (black bean and pig knuckle soup) to the Blue Ridge Mountains (pork and bacon sausage) to the Louisiana bayous (an oven-friendly version of cochon de lait, the traditionally spit-roasted Cajun suckling pig)—offer a thorough education in the pork-loving ways of the American South. Pig taught me, for instance, that because of Savannah, Georgia's role in the colonial maritime trade, folks in that city came to season their pork sausages with a veritable cargo hold's worth of spices—chile flakes, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and more. It also proved that a Northerner like me can pull off down-home dishes like the corn pone-topped ground pork and pinto bean pie from Bryce's Cafeteria, in Texarkana, Arkansas. And it's even convinced me that there's good sense behind some fads: everything—from biscuits to Brussels sprouts—really is better with bacon.