In the Philippines, they’re called “lechon." Hawaiians call them "luaow.” But here in Canada, people have a much simpler name for them.
And none of this cutting the porkers up so they’re small enough to fit in the oven. No, a true pig roast involves the whole pig—either on a spit or buried in hot coals.
But almost more important than the pig is the atmosphere that comes with one of these roasts.
Polynesian pig roasts, for instance, often mark a big celebration—like weddings or birthdays. And this party-like climate seems to have spread to pig roast enthusiasts in North America.
There’s a longstanding tradition in Mine Centre where the Saturday of the August long weekend is set aside for a pig roast by the Mine Centre Community Hall Committee.
“It seems to be the best party for attracting people," committee spokesman Karen Gustafson noted. "It’s probably the biggest event of the year.”
“We have normally 100 people attend," head chef Brian Love remarked. "And we have a village of about 120.”
Love had the unenviable task of making sure the pig was over the fire by 8:30 a.m. Saturday, then watch the little oinker until it was ready to be served later that evening.
Considering he had the loan of a portable fire pit with an electric rotisserie, his job was relatively easy once he got the fire going—especially when one considers how the job used to be done.
“When we first started out, we used to make a pit and cover [the pig] with coals,” Love said, noting it wasn’t until five years ago that they went to the more conventional system.
“You never knew what it would look like when it came out," he laughed. "With this, it’s perfect every time. It’s fantastic.”
Love added there were several cooking techniques one could use to keep the pig moist and juicy “but none that we would divulge to the Fort Frances Times,” he said.
Even though roast pork is considered a delicacy in many countries in the Orient, it lost its status long ago here in North America despite the pork industry’s valiant efforts to convince consumers otherwise.
But a pig roast is not made of pig alone. More than 100 cobs of corn were served at the Mine Centre spread, along with several types of salads.
“I’m sure a vegetarian could enjoy themselves—if they stayed away from the pig,” noted Gustafson.
Dancing, socializing, and scavenger hunts for both children and adults rounded out the rest of the evening. A live band played a selection of “old-time favourites” for the first part though many would say the evening was topped by the cracking of the piniata.
“It’s kind of like a celebration of the good life," Love noted. "It is a good life in Mine Centre.”