Peru: Eating Cuy (aka Guinea Pig)
Peru is worth traveling to just to eat the guinea pigs (aka “cuy”). While in the western world these cute rodents are used as domestic pets, in Peruvian Andes they have been used as a traditional food source since pre-Inca times. Over 65 million guinea pigs are consumed in Peru per year, mostly in the high Andes region. Two main preparation variants exist: “cuy chactado” (fried) and “cuy al horno” (oven baked). The former is common is the lower Andes around Arequipa and in the antiplano around Puno and lake Titicaca, while the latter is the delicacy of Cusco. Either way – it’s absolutely delicious, very low on fat, dark meat resembling rabbit. There are even whole cuy festivals where the little animals are celebrated and dressed up in costumes in cuy beauty contests and then later eaten. Also, the main cathedral in Cusco has a painting of the last supper where Jesus and his crew are eating the guinea pig. Cuy is not eaten for everyday meals and is considered a special occasion delicacy, however in my case – every dinner seemed like a special occasion. Consequently, 6 adorable guinea pigs were harmed and eaten in the preparation of this post.