Peru Travel Blog: A Taste of…Cuy (Guinea Pig)

The first thing to remember is that Guinea Pig, or Cuy as it is known, in Peru is a special delicacy often eaten on Mother’s and Father’s days where the children butcher, prepare and cook the Cuy for the parent.  At no time are they considered pets.  I believe they are often kept alive and I saw a few at the market, but they are considered livestock in the same way someone might keep chickens, pigs, etc.  Whilst I can appreciate that this may be a difficult thing for people to get their heads round, I have not so much trouble.  If this is what they eat and consider a delicacy here in Peru, then I’m going to try it in the same way that I have tried other Peruvian dishes/drinks.  A lot of people think lambs are cute, but still happily tuck into one for Sunday lunch and, to me, Guinea Pig is no different.

 That’s not to say that my mind did not play some tricks on me before ordering and when it arrived. But, I considered my more philosophical stance on it being meat rather than a pet and I got over it.  I also ordered a large Pisco sour and a large beer to help me along.  I had no idea how this would taste and it could turn out to be a wasted meal if I couldn’t eat it.

 I opted for the whole roast Cuy with stuffed peppers, salad and potatoes.  When it arrived it did look a bit ghastly, like a rodent version of suckling pig – complete with a pepper in place of an apple in its mouth.  And I had the obligatory photos taken.  Look away now, if squeamish…

 

Yummy!!

It was also the first meal I have had that other diners have wished to take photos of too!

 

Me and Garfunkel the Guinea...I know, I shouldn't have named him!!

With the photos of it whole out of the way, the waiter returned it to the kitchen to be quartered and returned to me in a more manageable state.  Actually, if you are really squeamish about this, you might want to skip this post all together…

 

A quarter of a Guinea is about 27p in today's money

Then I got to tuck in.  The stuffed peppers were fantastic: roasted peppers filled with spiced mince…oh, right…the guinea pig…

 The skin is thick, very chewy and almost rubbery and reminded me a bit of those dog chews you get in the shape of shoes, etc.  I decided not to persevere with it – I guess a Guinea Pig doesn’t have enough fat to make crackling.  Underneath the skin is a very thin layer of meat.  Except for the rump and hind legs which contain a little more, the Guinea Pig really is quite lean.  Just shows how much that fur bulks them out.  Texture-wise it was very tender and moist which may have been down to the roasting.  It was almost tender enough to feel as though it melted in my mouth.  Taste-wise most things get compared to chicken and it was very much similar to that, but a little more gamey.  With the fiddliness (is that a word?) of the bones and the gamey bird type flavour, the closest thing I can associate the flavour and texture to is quail and the whole package, including how it looks is more like rabbit.   I even braved eating the offal that was included.  I thought at the time it was liver and kidney, but I’m not so sure.  I ate them and they tasted like very small pieces of offal – offal is not something I eat often, so it was difficult for me to tell. 

 I wouldn’t be in a rush to eat it again, but it was well worth it for the experience, the photos and the story to tell.  I did go and have a look at some live Guinea Pigs back in the UK whilst buying cat food in Pets At Home and I honestly couldn’t really relate them to what I ate here.

 As I mentioned, there is not a lot of meat on it, so the accompaniments are definitely worth it…one thing I am sure of is that it won’t catch on over here…McGuineaPig Sandwich, fries and a Coke, please!

 

Bring me the head of Garfunkel Guinea Pig

 

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