Michelle Pina is a student at the University of Southern California. She is from a Cuban background, and is originally from Miami, FL before moving to Los Angeles, CA for college.
“La Cajachina is on Christmas Eve which is called Noche Buena, and we have this thing called La Cajachina which is essentially getting a pit in your backyard and roasting a pig carcass over the fire. So first off you have to make the pit or get a metal tub with coals. For the pig, some people do a whole pig and some people do parts. So for the parts you’d add seasoning to the meat you’re gonna roast. You get the roast from the butcher which means it should be clean but if you want to clean it more you can grab a hose and hose the whole thing down on the rotisserie rack.”
Q: Is there any reason for a pig to be roasted?
“With Cuban food, it’s a lot of pork so it makes sense for it to be a giant pig.”
Q: Is the celebration standard in your family?
“Oh yeah, it’s super standard. Sometimes if it’s only my immediate family we’ll just roast the pig in the oven and call it La Cajachina, but if we’re with more distant family and there’s a lot of people then we’ll do the official La Cajachina.”
I found out that “La Cajachina” translates into china box, which is essentially the box that the informant puts the pig in to barbecue. This box, from what I found, originated in Havana’s Chinatown, where Chinese laborers worked in the 1850s. However, my informant told me that there’s a tendency in Cuba/the Caribbean to call anything weird or complicated “china” or Chinese, so the box might’ve not been Chinese in origin.