The search is over. Last night on No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain had what he called the “best pig ever,” and, thankfully, it wasn’t a continuation of his meal at Momofuku Ssam last week.
Visiting the Philippines for the first time, Tony feasted on lechon, a whole roasted pig cooked over charcoal, this one turned entirely by hand, the better to get a uniformly crispy texture on the skin. On his blog yesterday, he perhaps clarified the pork title, calling the lechon the “best” of “all the whole roasted pigs I’ve [he’s] had all over the world,” edging out Bali and Puerto Rico. He also called the Philippines’ sisig–“a divine mosaic of pig parts” served on a sizzling platter–“one of the world’s best beer drinking dishes.”
Pork eating aside, it was one of the more fraught episodes, as Tony struggled to define the culinary identity of one of the few Southeast
Asian countries he had to yet to feature on the show, making three stops in a country of over seven thousand islands and intensely regional cuisine.
Making things even more touchy, one of Tony’s guides, Augusto, was picked from a fan special where he’d told Tony, like many fans before him, that he really had to checkout the Philippines. When Tony and Augusto met up, however, the young guy was far more timid and camera
shy than he’d been on his audition tape, and, as a Philippino-American visiting his family in the Philippines and feeling like an outsider, he
was struggling with identity issues of his own. All of this made for quite an interesting episode, albeit one that was less breezy than usual. Still,
in the end, as is often the case on the show, all things were solved by the right piece of pork. And we learned a few things of importance: 1)
You only have the skin of a lechon when the steam is still coming out of the butt; and 2) Bile is an acquired taste.