What is Lechon?
Lechon means roasted pig and it is a popular dish in Spain and in other countries that had become Spanish colonies. These countries include the Philippines, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and many other Latin American nations. The term “lechon” is said to be a derivative of the Spanish word “leche” which means milk. In its literal sense, the pig used to make lechon is like a “suckling pig” or a pig that is being fed by his/her mother’s milk.
When speaking of lechon, the whole pig is being roasted usually on charcoal. In the past, only suckling or baby pigs were used to make this very popular pork dish because younger pigs have very tender and juicy meat. But today, any size of pig may be used to make lechon depending on preferences and the number of people expected to eat. To make the lechon tasty, spices and flavorings are placed as some form of stuffing inside the pig’s belly area. And when it comes to the roasting part, the pig is turned from side to side all throughout until the whole piece is cooked and ready to serve.
Lechon has become synonymous with feasts, parties, and holidays in most countries that prepare this kind of pork dish. For some people, a party or a festival wouldn’t be complete without a lechon on the dinner table. In most parties, the lechon is like the centerpiece of the table. But obviously, having lechon is quite expensive since it involves roasting the whole pig or piglet. Not many people can actually afford to buy a whole pig and have it roasted. Perhaps this is also one reason that lechons are only served during big and important occassions. There are even times when lechons are paraded on the streets during town festivals. All these make lechon a very popular dish.