It seems not even a possible outbreak of swine flu could stop TIME Magazine from declaring "lechon", a Philippine pork delicacy, as the "Best Pig" on its Best of Asia 2009 list.
According to TIME, the idea for hailing "lechon" came from celebrity TV chef Anthony Bourdain, well-known for his voracious taste for all things pork, who declared the Cebu lechon as "the best pig ever" on his hit travel-food show "No Reservations."
"Many viewers were as surprised by the hyperbole as by the country he situated it in. But not Filipinos, among whom the zenith of porky perfection is an indisputable fact. It was just a matter of time before the rest of the world found out," said TIME writer Lara Day on the magazine's write-up.
Day went on to describe how the delicious delicacy is prepared with a variety of stuffings and spices, and eventually cooked slowly over a coal-fire until it is golden brown and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. "You could call it the Platonic ideal of a pig, but it's doubtful if Plato, or even an entire faculty of philosophers, could have imagined anything so exquisite," she wrote.
During the episode of "No Reservations" shot in the Philippines, Bourdain was seen snacking on the crunchy brown skin of a steaming newly-roasted pig and jokingly asking his tour-guide, Chicago-born Filipino-American Augusto Elefano, not to let anyone touch the pig's cheeks, intending to have the juicy part all to himself.
On Bourdain's blog entry titled "The Hierarchy of Pork", he declared the pork he tried in the Philippines as the "best in the world" followed by Bali, Indonesia and Puerto Rico.
During his short food trip in Manila, Cebu, and Pampanga, Bourdain also enjoyed several "porky" treats including sisig and barbecue. He tried many Filipino favorites including bulalo, kare-kare, fishballs, pansit palabok, sisig, sinigang, and even gamely popped a goat eye into his mouth with a smile.
Aside from calling the Cebu lechon "the best pig ever", Bourdain also said that tapsilog's beef was "ugly as hell but good" and described the popular soy-based street food "taho" as "like meatloaf in beancurd form."
Aside from "Best Pig", TIME Magazine also hailed several Asian destinations and trends including Tokyo as the "Best Place to Contemplate the Passing of Wealth", the Nu River Valley in China as the "Best Place to Visit Before It's Gone", and Helmand in Afghanistan as the "Best Place to Swim in a Warzone", among others.