The portable pig-roasting box originated in Cuba. Beachside food vendors use them to prepare picnic sandwiches in Puerto Rico. The box started turning up on the East Coast a few years ago when a company in Miami started marketing them under the name “La Caja China.” The medium-size box costs around $300 and cooks a 70-pound whole pig in four hours. The pig comes out with a nice crispy skin too, I am told. I have never used one. (A sawed-in-half 55-gallon drum is more my style.) But New York food writers like Jeff Steingarten ofVogue
and Doc Willoughby of
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were all aswoon over the pig boxes a couple of barbecue seasons ago. I don’t think the fad lasted very long. Pig roasting isn’t an easy thing to do in Manhattan. Whole pigs are expensive and hard to find--and so is barbecue wood.
Now the Miami pig box manufacturer, La Caja China International, is trying to peddle their hog roasters in Texas. Their press release observes that “mesquite is plentiful and sometimes free” here. I think the boys from Miami are a little mixed up. East Texas is drastically overpopulated with feral hogs. You can shoot as many as you want any day of the week. Mesquite, on the other hand, doesn’t grow around here. Someone ought to explain to the Caja China gang that around here it’s the pigs that are “plentiful and sometimes free.” --Robb Walsh