With its gleaming reddish-orange skin, a whole roast pig is a glorious sight to behold.
Traditionally spit-roasted over charcoal for several hours, the dish is popular in many parts of the world.
Southern areas in U.S. have their own version of the fare, which is well loved for its crispy skin, and moist and juicy meat.
In Germany, it’s called spanferkel.
In the Philippines, it is known as lechon or litson.
The lechon is said to have come from the Spanish word leche or milk, which touches on its original version as suckling pig roast.
Many Filipinos would argue over what is the national dish in the Philippines. Some say that it's lechon, but that is another story to be told.
In Vancouver, Asian and mostly Chinese meat shops sell roast pig by the pound or whole.
For many Filipino families living outside their native country, making a lechon at home is regarded as impossible.
Like, can you imagine turning a pig on a spit over a bed of hot coals in your garage?
However, it can be done, using a different technique, with a home oven.
This is where the Filipino Canadian Cultural Heritage Society comes in.
The FCCHS is a B.C. nonprofit that aims to celebrate and promote Filipino culture and heritage.
The group has been uploading on YouTube a series of shows as part of its online Christmas event called Labindalawang Araw ng Pasko, which means 12 Days of Christmas.
FCCHS creative and events director Socorro “Babes” Castro Newland suggested a cooking demonstration for lechon.
According to Newland, lechon is the culinary centrepiece in many Filipino celebrations.
“It is a favourite dish during Christmas,” Newland told the Straight.
Vancouver cook Russel Figueroa, who trained at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts, will do the demonstration in a show to be aired sometime this December.
Figueroa will split a young 40-pound pig, and use two home ovens.
“We’re going to put it together when we’re serving it,” Figueroa told the Straight.
According to Figueroa, lechon represents more than a dish in the Philippines, especially in rural areas.
Neighbours would come together, butcher the pig, prepare the spit, sit for hours by the hot coals, and later share the meal.
“It’s a community thing,” Figueroa said. “Lechon calls for a gathering.”
Newland said the FCCHS show, which includes Figueroa’s demonstration, will be available at a soon to be announced date. FCCHS secretary Janice Lozano and her team taped the cooking segment.
See here for more about the FCCHS' Christmas celebration.