A battle of gods. Zeus vs. the Titans. Ra vs. Apep. Rocky vs. Apollo. Well, I think the point is made. This is a battle of absolute epic proportions with no distinctive champion in my opinion. If you don’t know what these two things are, I’m sorry! Two of man’s great culinary creations, reaching the far boundaries of deliciousness. Suckling pig stuffed with an orgy of spices, spit roasted until the evenly bronzed skin is developed by a constant basting.
I wrote a while back about my sincere love of Babi Guling. Now, this is not meant to discredit that, but a bit of an affair happened when Lechon was walked into my life. It is just one of those things. So much the same, yet at the same time so uniquely different. It intrigued me.
Here is the quick play by play of my first real meeting with Lechon. I was at Masskara Festival 2016 in Bacolod city. A great Filipina friend had taken it upon herself to show me the festivities. Parades, dancing, costumes, food and drink. The makings of any good street party, right. Anyways, we had sat down at a table on the side of the street to indulge ourselves in copious amounts of Red Horse. Shortly thereafter, there it was.
Literally being walked into my life.
Maybe it was the beer fine tuning my senses. I turned around and the streets went silent. My vision blurred, only the glistening skin shimmering in the street light was in focus. The scent carried into my nostrils like a cartoon. I was drawn to it. As it was laid on its final resting place, a bench covered with banana leaf, the knives came out.
I approached, most likely drooling like a fool, I reverted back to my childlike instincts. Innocently I asked for a small piece of the crisp, toffee skin. Shortly after, we had bought a kilo of it.
This my friends, is where I could have died happily.
I gorged my glutinous self on this trifecta of pork. A layer of succulent meat, followed by unctuous fat that dripped down your chin. All this topped with that aforementioned skin. The distinctive part that truly makes this what it is. Snapping like brittle under the pressure of my teeth, it was a personal moment. Sheer bliss.
Getting back to that comparison between the Filipino Lechon and Balinese version, Babi Guling, it’s just not that easy. Two different countries that have both perfected the craft of spit roasted suckling pig. A different melange of spices, a different basting liquid or maybe a different wood is used. I’m really not sure. From my experience, it is served differently. Babi Guling was more of a full meal. Rice, urap, sambal along with the layers of pork and the addition of blood sausage. Lechon was a more ‘no holds barred’ kind of thing. Straight pork with no beating around the bush with sides and filler.
While I myself couldn’t choose a decisive winner, they both found an ample spot in my belly, heart and mind. Never forgotten and sometimes craved for, before my time is through I know I will indulge again. When this time does come, it will be glorious.
Have you had Lechon, Babi Guling or both? What is your opinion on this?