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Guavate, the name just sounds flavorful. From Ponce it’s a quick hop on the San Juan highway to the rural, hilly village beside the Carite Forest Reserve. Once you turn onto Route 184, Puerto Rico’s Pork Highway, you can smell the burning flesh. Large open-air restaurants each with an entire hog roasting in the front called lechoneras sit side by side for several miles. Most are open only on the weekends and by the afternoon turn into dance parties. Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations was here, as was Andrew Zimmern and every other adventurous eating show. Tourists however, rarely make the trip.
Each Lechonera is set up like a cafeteria. You wait in a line and order then pay at the register before you sit down. Pork is the obvious choice for most and maybe 80 percent add it to their plates. Patrons order by weight, beginning with a quarter pound. Others went with morcilla, the blood sausage that Puerto Ricans love and pile on the sides of tamales, ñame, yautía, guisados, guineos, tostones, rice, and mofongo. If you spend more than $10 you won’t eat for two days.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.