Nueva Ecija, Philippines
Provincial PigsWalk into any province in the Philippines— like my family's in Nueva Ecija— and you are bound to find a celebration under way. The formula for having a good time at a birthday, baptism or festival is simple: good "videoke" (a karaoke machine set up outdoors), good conversation, and delicious "lechon"— known to most as roast pig. Like most other countries where this crispy delicacy appears, lechon is a tradition derived from Spanish colonizers. It has since grown to become the national dish of the Philippines because of its huge popularity as a centerpiece for any vaguely special occasion.
My advice for truly enjoying lechon is to skip the restaurant; find a celebratory meal where the pig is bound to be surrounded by trays of many traditional Filipino dishes like kare-kare or pancit. Maybe you'll even get to videoke in a rice paddy.