A Cook's Diary

A pritchon birthday dinner

Pritchon, or pritong lechon (fried suckling pig), has been around for years. I first learned about it from a newspaper article back in 2004 when my food blog was still quite young. I wanted to try it even then but because the pritchon had to be ordered whole, I wondered how in the world a family of four could finish it. Friends who had sampled the pritchon did so at office parties and that reinforced even more the belief that a whole pritchon was just too much for us.

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Fast forward to 2009. Speedy, my husband, was celebrating his birthday on June 17 and a few days before his birthday, I had been ditching one idea after another as to what to serve for a special family dinner. It is a tradition in our family to serve the celebrant’s favorite dish so it’s usually lengua for my older girl’s birthday, pasta for my younger daughter’s birthday and something very carnivorous for their father. By fate or design, I landed on the web site of Charlie’s Pritchon.

On a purely exploratory mood, I called up one of the listed numbers. A woman, Dina, took my call and replied to all my queries. The price was P4,350.00 plus P600.00 delivery charge because our place is outside Metro Manila. It’s cash on delivery, she said (how that lifted my spirits as most companies require a down payment to be deposited in some bank which is such a hassle), and there were waiters to carve and serve the pritchon. I voiced out my concern about leftovers, there being only four of us in the family plus two house helpers and she explained that the waiters are well trained to deal with leftovers. I told Dina I’d consult birthday boy and get back to her.

I went downstairs and broached the idea to Speedy. Now, the thing about my husband is how he dislikes “ma-garbo” birthday celebrations. I think part of it stems from the idea that turning a year older is not exactly a cause for celebration so why bother? But then I wasn’t planning a party for a hundred. It was just going to be us. I gave him the URL of Charlie’s Pritchon’s web site so he could decide for himself. I waited until he had browsed a few pages. When I asked if he liked it, his exact words were, “Order-in mo na (Go ahead and order it).” I picked up the phone, the lady I talked to earlier, Dina (the owner, it turned out), had gone out on a delivery but Aisa said she could take my order. So I did, supplying Aisa with our address and phone numbers. She said I would get a call a day before the June 17 delivery date for confirmation.

When June 16 came and went and I got no call, I started to get nervous. We have had a bad experience with lechon delivery when our daughter, Sam, had her third birthday party years ago. We were expecting 70 guests who had started to trickle in but the lechon had not arrived. When I called up the lechon people, they told me they had no record of my order. I had to send my brother out to buy lechon — from another store, obviously. I called up Charlie’s Pritchon on the morning of June 17 to confirm. I was assured that the lechon would be delivered on time.

A little after six in the evening of June 17, the Charlie’s Pritchon van arrived. Amazingly, they did not get lost on the way. You know how it is with most food delivery services. They’d call you several times to ask for detailed directions but they’d still get lost anyway. But not the Charlie’s Pritchon people. I had already cleared the kitchen island so they’d have enough space to prepare. Two uniformed waiters brought in their stuff in huge banig bags and began the preparation. I had to ask them to slow down a bit so I could mount my camera on my tripod and get the proper settings.

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It was a lovely, lovely dinner. A real suckling pig (which means minimal fat), tender and juicy, served Peking duck style with cucumber and onion leaves inside pita wedges and accompanied by seven different sauces “? hoisin, honey mustard, white garlic, chili tagalog, sate, honey lemon and the traditional liver sauce. Instead of feeling tired and harassed, I felt pampered. I didn’t even have to give instructions about the leftovers because the two waiters knew exactly what to do. The excess chopped meat was placed in one container, the carcass and head in another. All we had to do was enjoy the food.

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Is Charlie’s Pritchon expensive at P4,350.00 plus a P600.00 delivery charge? Considering the quality of the food and service, and the fact that we had enough lechon to cook into three different dishes for the next two days, I’d say it was well worth the price. We were so happy with the experience that I asked Speedy if we were going to make Charlie’s Pritchon his birthday tradition. He just laughed. Knowing him, unless he specifically says no, a non-committal answer means, “Why not?”? I took that as a yes.

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