LIFESTYLE

It's OK To Make A Pig Of Oneself: Ecuadoreans Decide Who Makes Best Roast Pork

In this Aug. 17, 2014 photo, slow-roasted pork known as "Hornado," a traditional dish consisting of marinated, slow-roasted pork, is presented before the judges of the national contest to choose the country's best "Hornado," in Riobamba, Ecuador. After years of disputes within the different regions of Ecuador, over who could make the best "Hornado," the championship on Sunday finally settled the issue. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

In this Aug. 17, 2014 photo, slow-roasted pork known as "Hornado," a traditional dish consisting of marinated, slow-roasted pork, is presented before the judges of the national contest to choose the country's best "Hornado," in Riobamba, Ecuador. After years of disputes within the different regions of Ecuador, over who could make the best "Hornado," the championship on Sunday finally settled the issue. (AP Photo/Dolores Ochoa)

Monday was a bad day to be a pig in Riobamba, Ecuador. That's when thousands of Ecuadoreans gathered to decide something of upmost importance: Who makes the best roasted pork in the country?

"Cerdo horneado" is among the Andean nation’s most popular and best-loved dishes, and dozens of cooks converged on Riobamba, a provincial capital in central Ecuador about 120 miles south of Quito, to resolve the centuries-old dispute over which region makes it best. It's a debate that has even fueled popular songs and poems.

The cook-off competitors prepared their entries on brass roasting plates, closely guarding secret spice mixes and stuffing tomatoes in the pigs' mouths and peppers into their eye sockets.

The pigs emerged from the ovens with a succulent, golden tone. Soon, the judges were sampling the offerings.

President Rafael Correa delivered the experts' verdict: Ecuador's best roast pig was made by Rosa Tabango from Otavalo, a popular tourist destination in the highlands north of Quito.

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Wearing a white chef's hat and suit, Tabango momentarily froze as tears rolled down her cheeks. Then she raised her hands in triumph as shouting and clapping spread across the crowd, crescendoing into a deafening roar.

"I'm happy," she said. "I learned the preparation from my grandparents and my mother."

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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