HIALEAH, FLA. (WSVN) - South Florida is getting ready to celebrate Nochebuena, and residents were out and about Saturday to pick up everything they need for a delicious Christmas Eve meal.
Mary’s Ranch Cabrera’s in Hialeah opened at 7 a.m., Saturday, but people were waiting in line to pick up pigs for their holiday roasts as early as 3 a.m.
“The pig is the most important part of Nochebuena for us Hispanics,” said Larry Alfonso.
An 11-year-old boy said he already knows the process and could probably cook the pig all by himself. “It’s tradition,” he said.
It’s a tradition that had lines wrapped around Mary’s Ranch.
“We come out here and stand in line and pick up our pig, we choose it,” said Alfonso.
Mary’s Ranch owners said they have 1,000 pigs reserved, and hundreds were sold in the three days leading to Dec. 24.
One family talked about their Nochebuena tradition.
“It’s a tradition that my father started years ago, and we kept the legacy going on,” said Raul Rodriguez.
The preparation for a “lechon asado” is a slow process, but families said it is well worth the wait.
Rodriguez described his family’s recipe. “We use sour orange, garlic chunks, put it all in a blender, cumin, and then we just lay it out, salt it off front and bottom and the back and we just salt it down,” he said. “Then we just take the seasoning and put it right into the meat all around and just cover it up with aluminum foil and leave it overnight.”
The roast pig will be roasted eight hours, either in the traditional “caja china” or in the ground.
“We let it sit and marinate all day long,” said Luis as he put his arm around Rodriguez.
While the chefs start cooking, last-minute shoppers at Dolphin Mall in Sweetwater were fueling up.
“I came by early, and I hope I can find everything I’m looking for.” said Idy Lopez.
“This is the only time that we’re late on anything,” said shopper Fernando Zarranz. “Everything else, we’re pretty good about.”
With about 10 gifts left to pick up, Zarranz said he works better under pressure. “I got here at 9 o’clock in the morning, until 6 p.m., when it closes on Sunday, so I’m OK right now,” he said.
South Florida malls are keeping their doors open later, and stores are dropping prices. “Usually, a couple of days before Christmas, maybe like the day before Christmas, everything will usually be on sale,” said shopper Emani Cain.
But whether South Floridians are getting ready in the kitchen or at the mall, these last-minute preparations are getting everyone in the holiday spirit.
Most shopping centers across South Florida, including Dolphin Mall, will have limited hours on Christmas Eve.
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