Lechon at La Catumba: Heaven on a Plate

Are you drooling over this big hunk of pork deliciousness? You should be.

Since arriving in Puerto Rico last July, I’ve heard many tales of all of the fabulous lechon found around the island. Though I’d been sniffing around Rincon for it all summer and fall, I left for the holidays which is when everybody and there momma throws a pig on the spit and a feast is had by all. Until this past weekend I had yet to sink my teeth into any magically delicious crispy pork skin and succulent flesh… but all of that changed! Thanks effing god. Oh whole roasted pig, I bow to your awesomeness. You complete me. Hell – there’s a reason I have a tattoo of you. Seriously – if you have never been to a pig roast or had the chance to experience it first hand, you don’t know what you’re missing… And I’m weeping for you a little on the inside. 😉

This weekend I had a chance to go to a local Promesa in the hills of Lajas. What is a Promesa you ask? If a family or individual has problems, around the holidays they will ask the Three Kings to intercede. The individual will make a promise that for a certain number of years that on a specific day every year you will come together to give honor to the Three Kings, which usually happens in the form of singing. There are Promesa’s that have been going on for generation after generation. The individual erects an alter with things related to their particular promise. In the case of the Promesa I attended, Leo is a farmer so his promise has to do with agriculture and his alter was filled with the produce from his farm. Once the music begins, one person sings the versus of the songs and the community sings the chorus so it becomes a dialogue back and forth of the promises to the kings. The singing lasts for a set amount of time then there is an equal amount of time for sharing and drinking. This pattern of singing then sharing/drinking continues all night and often times into the next day or even the day after. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have been invited to experience this incredible glimpse inside the Puerto Rican culture! What a culture of amazingly warm, generous, beautiful people. Sadly though, I didn’t take my camera out and capture any photos of the event.

Anthony
Anthony – the man that made this fabulous weekend happen! Muchas Gracias, Anthony!

My friend who invited us to the Promesa used to live in the coastal town of La Paguera and commute through Lajas for his job doing archeological digs. Since these were his old stomping grounds he had mentioned to me that he knew of a place in the area that roasts a whole pig every Sunday… and that it is amazing. And oh my gawd is it amazing. It’s a little bar called La Catumba in Barrio Llanos Tuna in Cabo Rojo…. pretty much the middle of nowhere that I would have had a zero percent chance of finding on my own, so a HUGE thank you to Anthony for the entire weekend. La Catumba is a colmado – a little convenient store/bar that caters to the basic necessities of the direct people in the barrio… you know, with things like beer and vienna sausages. 😉 During the week they don’t serve much prepared food but on Sunday… look out! They throw the pig on the fire at 4am and it’s ready to hit your plate by noon. Not gonna lie, their lechon was pretty much one continuous mouthgasm after another. The men at La Catumba know how to do pig and I know how to eat it. It’s a match made in heaven really.

Men cooking the lechon at La Catumba

You know I had to peep my head into the the kitchen where the men were cooking the Lechon!

Did you grow up in a culture that does pig roasts? My dad used to work in the Agriculture department at Virginia Tech and ever year there would be an enormous pig roast. I remember gnawing on pig ears and feet and running around playing all kinds of games with the other kids. It’s there that I learned the saying, “You can eat every part of the pig except the oink”. It’s true and I love it all!

5 comments so far:

  1. Wesley says:

    I have been going here for years. My uncle is good friends with the owner. It is delicious. I must say, I do a good job imitating this with my caja china…

  2. Cookie Rodriguez says:

    Girl, now you have me planning a trip to Lajas…

  3. Amanda says:

    cookie! name the sunday and lets go together! i want to do this all over again! :) ps – i still need to get you and jenny over to my house for dinner one weekend! what are you doing this weekend? i’m moving after that but should be settle into a place in early february! just let me know!

  4. Roasted pigs are definitely a notch healthier than deep fried meat! Lechon is a delicacy on most Asian countries as well. Having adventurous taste buds will certainly take you places! What is by far, the most exotic thing you have ever eaten?

  5. karla held says:

    Amanda,
    This site is so cool!

    What a great idea and execution of it…

    I want to talk to you about it sometime!

    Karla

    http://www.karlaheld.com