Food

Bourdain Finds His Pig In the Philippines

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A pig, not Tony’s, not lechon

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.