Welcome to marketmanila.com, a food blog that is about 4.5 years old, and has some 2,100 separate posts in the archives. I am expecting several new readers to google up this site as a result of a segment on Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho’s program this evening, so I have decided to compile this list of posts related to lechon and what eventually led up to the roast pig that Mr. Bourdain tasted and kindly declared was “The Best Pig, Ever”… leading to the Time article listing Cebu lechon as one of this year’s “Best of Asia” and all of this attention for a dish we as a nation enjoy all year round. Let me make this crystal clear from the start. I do not think there is any one “BEST” lechon, that is just too subjective an opinion given such a wide range of taste buds and personal preferences. Let’s just say it was the luck of the draw that this particular silly lechon has been featured recently… So here is a guide to several posts related to lechon and which chronicle the development of our version of the national dish…
Early on, I wrote a post on lechon and where we were buying ours at that time, nearly 4 years ago. An early poll on Pinoys favorite Filipino dishes, lechon ranked 4th overall. Then I later wrote a post on what qualities I assumed an ideal lechon might possess. I note now that several of my assumptions then have proven to be incorrect. Instead of smooth skin, I now prefer an “accuchon” treatment, and instead of a 15 kilo or so pig, I have recently been leaning more towards a 25-30 kilo ideal weight. Next, as a pre-cursor to my own lechon experiments, I “dissected” ordered lechons to try and see what stuffing they had inside. And a slight diversion from roasted pigs, I did have a post on cute wallowing pigs, to remind us all that a creature was killed every time we enjoyed this dish. And here’s another post along that vein, on humongous pig’s cheeks which make guanciale.
I finally decided to pursue a food dream to figure out how to make lechon from scratch in our own “backyard” and embarked on what was perhaps a risky, expensive and potentially disastrous quest. Or not. :) The first step was to build the lechonan. The next step was to identify the piggy variables, from native to farm-raised, small to medium size… And before we even finished construction of the lechonan, we hastily tried our first lechon, a “fat” rather than “dry run” that turned out pretty decent. A second experiment happened weeks later. Then a third, fondly called the “slitchon” but which looked a bit gory. A sometimes controversial duo of post and post on accupuncturing meat. Resulting in the fourth lechon experiment, which yielded the (now should be patented) “Accuchon” a la Marketman. By the fifth official experiment, we were quite pleased with the results, and we scheduled a marketmanila reader lechon eyeball to pile on the pressure to keep improving our lechon.
But unbeknownst to everyone besides myself, family and crew, I had been contacted by the producers of an American television program. So under complete secrecy, plans and weeks of preparation were done to host a visiting food personality who many guessed was Anthony Bourdain. I wrote this silly post the day before leaving for Cebu to make final preparations for the shoot. then that was followed by this very popular post (with tons of photos) on last minute research in Cebu and Talisay regarding the final menu I planned to serve. The day before the Bourdain shoot, I went to the Carbon market to get supplies.
The shoot on October 28th went quite well. And after a very long and stressfull day, I did this short but oh so very sweet summary of the day’s outcome. So regular readers of this blog knew nearly half a year ago, what is only now hitting various news outlets… :) After recovering from the shock, I wrote this lengthy post on what really went on at the shoot, but without giving away details… that would have to come after the program was aired in the U.S. Of course it was somewhat inevitable that with a post that attracted so many readers and comments, one or two cyber lunatics otherwise known as “trolls” would attempt to put a damper on good vibes, which I responded to with this post. And though I jump ahead, the real “I told you so” was in this much later post, here, which described in detail behind the scenes preparations.
Word finally came in early February 2009 that the No Reservations Philippines episode would be debuted in the U.S. on February 16, and the first teaser on their website quoted Bourdain as saying the lechon skin “Tastes Like Candy…”, in this post. As soon as the episode started airing on March 16th, several readers in the U.S. started leaving comments on this post to describe it for all of us who were not in the U.S., the comments are hilarious at times. I described the full lunch menu served here. In the meantime, blog posts by Mr. Bourdain on his show’s website were getting a near record number of comments, mostly from Pinoys in the U.S., and many of them unflattering and frankly, crab-like in mentality. In reaction to some of those comments, I wrote this post about what I thought of Mr. Bourdain’s chosen guide who was a Filipino American and only on his second visit to the Philippines, ever. And seemingly in support of my views on Augusto, Mr. Bourdain added another comment on his blog, praising Augusto, here.
After the post-program hubbub had died down, I figured that was that. Until Time Magazine referred to that Bourdain episode and named the Philippines as having the best pig, in their annual Asian edition selecting “The Best of Asia.” That led to TV Patrol, DZMM, other radio programs, even Kris Aquino mentioning it, newspaper coverage, etc. etc. And finally, a request from Jessica Soho’s producers to film a lechon being made from scratch, one of the subjects of this evening’s program. So if this is your first time to marketmanila.com, you can click on the links above if interested in the “whole” story. And if you are a regular, I apologize for repeating myself. Thanks for dropping by and welcome to marketmanila.com! :)
Postscript: Since I wrote this post, there have been several related lechon posts which may also be of interest to you:
Zubuchon – you can now purchase the accupunctured lechon in Cebu
Schedule of “No Reservations, Philippines” on local cable television stations in the Philippines
“The Best of The Best” – a link to the Food & Wine Magazine blog which has an article about an Anthony Bourdain interview with Frank Bruni of the New York Times
A Zubuchon Press Lunch