Whether you are on a budget or willing to splurge a little, it seems like you can get sisig anywhere. You can pick it out in the food line up at a carinderia, buy it at your school cafeteria, or order it off the menu of a Filipino restaurant. Filipinos serve the dish for different occasions; from birthdays to formal meetings to casual inuman. Fusion restaurants have also started incorporating sisig into their menus through sisig burritos, sisig nachos and fried sisig dumplings, among many other dishes. Great food, anytime you want? Sounds like every foodie’s dream!
But what makes sisig so appealing? Maybe it’s because of the way it is traditionally served on a fun sizzling plate, its uniquely Filipino origins, or the novelty of saying that you’re eating a pig’s face, including the snout and ears! One thing is for sure: Sisig is a delicious dish that should be celebrated. And what better way to celebrate it than to have it authentically Kapampangan? Yes, that’s right — sisig was born right in beautiful Pampanga.
Authentic Pampanga sisig is simple. The cooked meat from the head of the pig is mixed with a sour relish, then pig brains and chicken liver. And it may come as a surprise to some, but the original sisig did not have egg or mayonnaise.
The original Kapampangan sisig can be traced back to a woman named Lucia Cunanan, more popularly known as Aling Lucing. Aling Lucing created the famous dish using pig’s head because it was the one part of the animal that the United States Air Force personnel did not use while they were stationed at Clark Air Base in the ‘70s. The highlight of her sisig? The crunchiness that came from pig’s ear cartilage.
If you’re not yet convinced, Aling Lucing’s sisig was the recipe that the late Anthony Bourdain tried in 2008 when he visited the Philippines. After having tried the dish, he went on to say that that sisig was “perfectly positioned to win the hearts and minds of the world as a whole. I think that’s the one that’s going to hook ‘em.”
Another sisig recommended by Kapampangans is served at Mila’s Tokwa’t Baboy and Sisig, serving up a softer and lighter take on the famous dish. According to the locals, Aling Lucing’s is the original, but Mila’s sisig comes in as a close second. It is definitely a must-try as well!
Pampanga is very proud of its sisig, believing it to be a part of its heritage and culture. The Angeles City government even put the dish under an ordinance that would protect it from cultural appropriation. They even have a Sisig Fiesta, held annually in December since 2003! The ultimate goal of the fiesta is to celebrate the original recipe of the dish and to encourage people to make it the right way.
Beyond the deliciousness of the dish, sisig is a reflection of the rich culture, history, and food scene of Pampanga. Just like sisig, the city has a flavor so unique to it that despite the countless of re-creations, no one can quite duplicate its magic. This is why more young families are planting their own roots in Pampanga — after all, a fiesta dedicated to sisig is a definite plus!
So whether you try it at Aling Lucing’s, Mila’s or at the fiesta, just make sure you go and try the true, blue, authentic Kapampangan sisig. Food, after all, is one of the things that make life beautiful — and everyone deserves a beautiful life. So head on over to Pampanga and create yours now!