THE EVOLUTION OF THE lechon manok (roasted chicken)
It started decades ago with hooded mobile grills that use charcoal and whose rotisserie grills are being manually turned to evenly roast the chicken. Now, the technology has caught up with it and we have these fabulous George Foreman grills and upscale barbecue rotisseries of all shapes and sizes.
What am I referring to? Well, it's the roasted chicken phenomenon.
Chicken, being a very affrodable and allegedly nutritious, more healthier protein option, has paved the way for food fads that have ranged from fried to barbecued to even processed foods. It most deserves, in my opinion, it's being a superstar in fastfood chain menu offerings. It's easy to cook, tasty and agreeable to most religion-related dietary constrictions.
I remember when I was younger how the then Lechon Manok was much like the donut of the current generation. It was what moms or dads or grandparents brought home from work for their kids. Weekends meant having them for dinner. They were also present in most special occasions from birthdays to office parties. When it's a potluck party, everyone wanted to bring it to the party because it was the most convenient. They'd not need to cook or even order. Lechon Manok stands were practically scattered in major streets and in most neighborhoods.
Then came out the restaurant brands that featured barbecued chicken. Mostly charcoal-grilled and mostly letting diners choose between the quarter of the chicken which has the leg or the wing. The recipes were simple and the taste loved by many. It was a comfort food of sorts. The dining areas al fresco and unintimidating. People flock to them for quick, affordable dinners. Diners thought they were eating healthy too because it was grilled.
Recently, the poultry industry diversified some of their efforts by making their own grilled or barbecued chicken recipes, putting up small barbecue kisoks and franchised them out. They scattered these kiosks and small stalls in every corner and busy neighborhood commercial areas possible, you practically don't need to look for them.
The business model is a genius idea. Chicken was cheap. The equipment is very accessible, marinading and precooking were a breeze too. The space needed for the stores were as small as 6 or 9 square meters. Business hours only over lunch and over dinner.
The chicken barbecues have become a busy mom's go-to dinner choice or the emergency dinner potluck dish. It became a craving for pregnant women and even for women who weren't. Men bought them especially for those who don't cook, who don't have wives or cooks. It became a student's whole day or two-day viand.
Moreover, it has brought employment for people who simply have to watch the rotisserie and sell out the chickens. It has brought meaning to empty small stalls that were not enough space for internet cafes and boutiques. On the other hand, it made moms a little lazier than usual. But then, they can do that once in a while.
In my opinion, for all the reasons that have been said, the grilled chicken phenomenon has not seen its best years yet. It is thriving now but there's more to come for it. After all, it tastes like chicken.