In Ecuador and Peru, you can find “cuy” [“guinea pig”] at certain restaurants that serve traditional Ecuadorean / Peruvian food. I’d found one or two of these restaurants before, but they were always closed when I tried to go. In Cusco, they’re well aware that eating guinea pigs is a tourist curiosity and, like everything else in Cusco they’ve figured out that tourists like, there are 9 billion places to find it.
I ate at a restaurant on my first night in Cusco that served cuy, but I wasn’t quite in the right headspace to eat a guinea pig, so I tried alpaca meat instead (wasn’t a fan). I spent today mentally preparing for a meal of guinea pig (and not achieving much else, come to think of it). By dinnertime, I was ready and I headed to a cuy-serving restaurant I’d passed by during my meanderings about town and ordered “cuy al horno” [“oven roasted guinea pig”].
As you can see, it’s served whole. It still has teeth! It’s pretty creepy to have sitting on your plate staring back at you. The waitress was really excited that I’d ordered it and insisted on taking a picture of my first bite. She instructed me to eat it in local fashion: with my bare hands.
The skin was unexpectedly tough. I thought I’d be able to just bite into it, but I really had to pull at it to tear off a chunk of meat. Once I got past the skin, the meat had the texture and consistency of chicken, but not the taste. The taste was actually very similar to hamster meat.
I gotta say, guinea pig is pretty tasty, though it is uncomfortable to slowly rip off and eat body parts from a whole animal. Especially one that’s kind of cute when it’s alive. As I was eating it, I noticed it actually looked like a rat. Really, they could have easily served me a rat and I’d have no idea but to keep from getting too gross, let’s assume it was guinea pig.
This was the final result. All in all, a very good meal, but not the kind of thing I think I’ll do again anytime soon. It tastes good, but it’s expensive (by Peruvian standards) at around $18, which is double the price of a normal dinner. Also, I promised the demon cuy ghosts that now haunt my hostel room that I’d never do it again.
To make myself look less bloodthirsty, I got a picture of me eating my dessert, a banana-chocolate crêpe, which I had absolutely no qualms about eating whole.
(my apologies to okay for this post / my sins)