It’s a holiday tradition that goes back more than 500 years: Gathering the family together on Nochebuena — “Good Night’’ in Spanish — and pigging out.
And if you’re in South Florida for a Nochebuena feast, that pig might have come from Mary’s Ranch in Hialeah or Blue Sky Food By the Pound in Miami.
“It’s an extremely big day for us,’’ said Maria Gonzalez, an assistant manager at Blue Sky. The store had sold close to 100 whole pigs on Monday, she said.
And at Mary’s Ranch — also known as Matadero Cabrera — more than 2,000 pigs have been sold since the weekend, said manager Jack Cabrera.
“The line was crazy,” said a very busy Cabrera. “It happens every year.”
The pigs at Mary’s can range from 30 pounds to 300 pounds — and with the market charging $1.85 a pound, plus a $15 slaughter and cleaning fee, that can mean customers shelling out well over $500 for the feast’s main course.
It’s often accompanied by black bens and rice, yuca bread, a salad and Spanish turrones, or almond nougats.
The tradition dates back to the 15th century when Caribbean colonists hunted down pigs and roasted them whole as the family gathered for Christmas Eve.
Cabrera said Monday he was looking forward to going home and enjoying his own lechón feast. A 50-pound pig spent Sunday in a being marinated in salt, sour oranges and other spices. Early Monday, his wife’s family put it in a “caja china’’ where it will roast over hot coals.
“The pig is as important for Nochebuena as the turkey is for Thanksgiving,” Cabrera said.