Puerto Rico’s Pork Highway (Part1)
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Puerto Rico’s Pork Highway (Part1)

Cebu : Philippines | Jul 18, 2012 at 6:20 PM PDT
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La Marginal Puerto Rican Cuisine - Plantain LOCO!

Skooter reporting 07/19/12

I’m surprise to learn that in the hills of Puerto Rico one early Saturday morning, they have also this lechon or whole roasted pig which I thought is only available in the Philippines, particularly in the island of Cebu where you can find the tastiest lechon in the world. I watched local chefs along a road known as the Pork Highway gathered their marinated, 150lb swines, skewered them from snouts to anus and spread them over spits for eight hours of slow roasting. As the sun rose, they sliced plantains to prepare tostones (twice-fried green plantains) and boiled gandules (pigeon peas) with rice. They have a distinctive way in preparing the stuff. By mid-afternoon, the smoke from the kitchens would clear and the strip of road along PR-184 would suddenly overcrowded with locals, famish for food and live meringue music.

Concealed away in Puerto Rico’s Carite Forest, Guavate, a small town in the rocky Cayey region, is the kind of place that makes hotel keepers say, “You want to go there?” Guavate is fifty kilometers outside of the colonial capital San Juan, and is far from the island’s popular casinos and immaculate sands. Dodging the crowded beaches, however, gives an imposing viewpoint on the genuine Puerto Rican lifestyle, especially if you are looking to experience one of the island’s respected culinary traditions that is eating at a lechonera, a restaurant that specializes in lechón, or whole roasted pig, open every Saturday and Sunday. In my country, the fame lechon is served both weekdays and weekends all year round. This is why most Filipinos suffers hypertension due to eating too much lechon. LoL

Pigs were initially brought to the island from Spain during Christopher Columbus’ second trip in 1493, and they have been a favorite in Puerto Rican cuisine ever since. Add to that a change in rule from native Taíno to Spanish to the American commonwealth it is today, and Puerto Rico’s assorted menu reflects its historic roots with Caribbean flare. In addition to pork, the lechoneras of Guavate serve mile-high platters of traditional dishes, from sweet plantains (amarillos) to blood sausage (morcilla).

Setting out with empty stomachs, my companion and I asked the front desk at our hotel for directions, but the clerk lifted her eyebrows in astonishment. “Trust me,” she said. “You don’t want to go, there. It’s just a big party in the jungle.”

I asked myself was she dubious to disclose the location in trying to steer us away from dangerous jungle territory? Or was she trying to protect a clandestine spot known mostly by locals? Whatever her reason, she eventually caved and penned a jagged line down PR-184, marking an X in the middle of nowhere.

To be continued…

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skooter is based in Cebu, Central Visayas, Philippines, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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