Caja China? Caja Charlie!

Legend has it, it is physically impossible for a person of Cuban decent to say “no” to a pig roast.  Charlie must have known this when he invited Chuchito Valdes, who was in town for another jazz show at HR-57, to come to our pig party. But let me start at the beginning.

The summer brought along with it the (now) annual “Carlos Classic,” a pig roast party (which we held at the house) sponsored by the nice folks at Clearspring, Charlie’s employer.  The pig roast, in addition to a car racing team, are just two examples of why it’s great to work for Clearspring.

The party would be different this year for a few reasons.  This year, there was a bounce-house/bouncy castle/inflatable lawsuit magnet.  This year there were TWO margarita machines.  This year the weather was nice.  This year, Charlie built his own “caja china.”

A caja china is a cheap wood box you can buy online to cook your pig that is what the average person uses to scorch their pigs.  Average will not do for Charlie.  This is one of the many reasons we love him.

What may have seemed to many like an unnoticeable detail, the “caja Charlie” was a big deal that required no less than 30 trips to Home Depot, and countless hours outside with safety goggles and power tools. Charlie was a pig roaster in shit.

Boy Stuff

pig roaster in shit

Not to be confused with the organic farm-raised pig he chose for the roast. Randomly throughout the week I got updates about the pig, like, “the pig is on its way to the butcher.”  Insert your own mental picture. Charlie’s pig roast box even had a grill on top, so he could cook us lunch while the pig roasted below… like a double oven, but constructed by Charlie.

for lunch: chicken and corn

for lunch: chicken and corn

So it was almost time for the pig roast, Charlie’s dad and cousins came into town to help setup and cook the pig. Being that they’ve all logged hundreds of hours roasting their own pigs-in-a-box, they were welcomed to join the fun.



pig in a box

That's just my pig in a box!

The night before the party, we took Charlie’s dad and cousin to see Chuchito Valdes, that I wrote about before, who happened to be back in town.  Before the show started we chatted up Chuchito who was walking around greeting people. In conversation Charlie sneaks in that we are cooking a “lechon” the next day, and invited him (the son and grandson of grammy-winning jazz legends) to come. So Chuchito responds with the only answer that seemed to be applicable, “How are you going to invite me to a lechon and expect me to say no? Of course!”

the setup

The Chuchito Quintet (hidden drummer)

I got his numba how bout them apples

Charlie and Chuchito exchange numbers

The “artists studio” in the back ended up being perfect for the tables of side items. No one broke their neck on the bouncey house.

bounce, bounce

bounce, bounce

Chuchito came and enjoyed some pig.

Chuchito, quieres un muffin?

Chuchito in the house!

Cubans in Virginia

Chuchito meets Charlie's Pop

A beer pong table appeared out of nowhere.  And our last guests left at midnight.


Mosquito-repelling tiki torches for the win

Carlos Classic 2.0 was a complete success.

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