Tahusan, which for a while I thought was pronounced, “Thousand” is south of Salog but before Biasong, and runs along the coast of Hinunangan Bay. This barangay seems to be the place where many locals hang out and enjoy the beach, if they didn’t want to go all the way to Pong-Dako/Pong Gamay.
My family rented out a space and we celebrated each others’ company by eating lechon and drinking tuba. Lechon, of course, is a well known dish, and Filipino lechon has received praise from the likes of Anthony Bourdain in his “No Reservations” show, but my experience with lechon was a little different.
Don’t get me wrong – I love lechon, but I guess it has been a while since I’ve actually had the entire pig in front of me. If you order some lechon in some Filipino restaurant in the states it is likely cut up pieces of crispy skin with some meat and plenty of fat that has been fried, but typically you don’t go to the restaurant and get the whole pig. Getting the whole pig is usually reserved for some event since it can feed a lot of people. Since there were only 10 in our group, we had a smaller pig, but it was still delicious.
However, I don’t think I realized how much fat is underneath
all that skin. Everyone knows the best part is the skin, but I guess I never realized just how much fat lies underneath, so I kept on eating the skin and the fat. It wasn’t until later I
realized people scraping the fat off and just eating the crunchy skin.
And in addition to the fat, there are also all the different parts of the pig, and Filipinos eat it all. My cousins thought it would be funny to play a little “fear factor” with me and get me to eat things I don’t normally eat in the states, like pig brain. So my cousin cracked open the top of the pig’s head and scooped out a little of the white creamy looking brain –
he tried it first – then I tried it. As I’m writing this I can’t really remember the taste, but in my journal I wrote that it tasted fatty and the texture was pasty; but I do know it wasn’t particularly nasty, but it wasn’t something I was eager to try again.
This is what the lechon looked like afterwards:
Tuba (pronounced too-BAH as opposed to TOO-ba) was the other local favorite I tried. It’s an alcoholic beverage that my dad said came from the bark of a tree and was almost like a drug. This Wikipedia article references tuba as palm wine.
I believe I had the red tuba that was aged, but it tasted very bitter and sour. When I tell this story to relatives in the States, they tell me tuba can range from tasting sweet to tasting very sour and there is no consistency in what kind of tuba you get. I also couldn’t tell how strong it was – it didn’t have any lingering taste of alcohol like a spirit or new wine. It tasted like sour juice. And for some reason it came in a large plastic bottle (which was obviously used for something else):