Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Art of Making Lechon

Food reflects a lot about the culture of certain places. It largely say about its people—their lifestyle, priorities and even their state-of-mind. The Philippines, being a “happy” country and upholds the importance of unity and family, normally celebrate momentous events with food. No celebration is complete without the wide array of food choices for family guests to partake.

From birthday celebrations to weddings and even fiestas, food has been at the forefront of any festivity. And nothing can beat a freshly roasted lechon proudly lying in one’s dinner table; much more if it is a special kind of lechon—Cebu lechon.

Cebu has been known for more than a couple of things: its rich marine life, friendly people and a progressive economy which other provinces emulate. On top of these, Cebu is also known for its food delicacies like otap, dried mangoes and yes, lechon.

Cebu lechon is a far cry from what we normally see being displayed along La Loma, Metro Manila. Cebuanos use a combination of several spices to come up with a mouth-watering lechon for their patrons. Each Cebuano lechon maker has his own version of what is the standard Cebu lechon but in general, they basically almost taste the same—very tasty.

For comparison, La Loma’s lechon doesn’t have the ingredients which could qualify it as Cebu lechon. If you are keen enough you can just check the belly of their lechon and you’ll discover that the belly is not even stitched. For an authentic Cebu lechon this is not possible since it is essential to stitch the belly so as to prevent the ingredients from spilling over.

La Loma’s lechon, though not all, uses only regular salt and bits and pieces of mixed garlic, pepper and other ingredients. They just abundantly rub it to the carcass’ belly which makes this procedure stitch-free.

However, not all stitched lechon is Cebu lechon. While other claims to be an authentic seller of Cebu lechon, it all boils down to what ingredients are being used.

Metro Manila is populated with these impostors trying to pass their lechon as authentic Cebu lechon just to come up with a sale. Some even charge exorbitant rate at the expense of the poor buyer. However, there are a couple of authentic Cebu lechon companies in the metropolis, although, most of them do not bother to market their product well.

One new player in the market is Manong’s Lechon Cebu. Owned by Roland Panares and Terence Limalima, both Cebuanos, Manong’s Tasty Lechon Cebu has been treating Cebuanos with sumptuous lechon, roasted to perfection using an age-old family recipe with only the finest herbs and spices.

“I was really appalled to know the unstitched lechon belly in Metro Manila”, Panares said. “A good lechon should start from the ingredients and the pig to be used”, he added. Since Manong’s Lechon Cebu has been getting orders all the way from Metro Manila, the group decided to bring the very same product . . . the same flavor and quality . . . of their lechon in Cebu to the Metro. This is to ensure quality.

“Before, if we get orders that are to be eaten by lunchtime in Metro Manila, we are obliged to roast the lechon at dawn even as early as 2 A.M. just to be assured that the order would arrive in Manila by 10 A.M. This would compromise the quality of the skin, due to transit and not to mention the cabin temperature of any given airline. But now that we are here in Manila, we can guarantee freshly grilled lechon anytime”, Panares said.

For this Christmas season, Manong’s Lechon Cebu offers its Gift Certificates in denomination of P6,000 up to P10,000, as a perfect gift for clients and friends.
Manong’s Lechon Cebu can be reached at PLDT Wireless 7032133, email

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