Cuy.

In the summer of 2007 my husband and I had an opportunity to spend a couple of weeks traveling through Peru. It was an amazing foodie trip, especially the few days we spent trekking through the Andes on our way to Machu Picchu. The cooks prepping our breakfast, lunch and dinner were fantastic. The dishes were light on meat, due to us trekking through the mountains, but filled with so many vegetables and grains, much to the delight of my vegetarian self. Delicious.

As great as all these dishes were the most memorable meal would have to be my hubby’s experience with the traditional Andean dish Cuy, guinea pig to the rest of us.

In the weeks coming up to our trip we kept toying with the idea of perhaps snacking on  this cute little barbecued  fur ball . My hubby far more excited about it than I.

Arriving in Peru we kept an eye on the all menus yet we couldn’t find Cuy on offer at any of the restaurants. On a gray cloudy afternoon in Lima we spent a few hours  at one of the Adobe Pyramids where we had an opportunity to learn a little about Cuy.

We learned about how it is  such a great protein source, low in fat and cholesterol. Being so small  it requires little room to raise as opposed to traditional livestock pigs, sheep or cows. Reproducing  at a fast rate makes it an affordable source of protein . We would also have to try it in Cusco as it was an Andean specialty. We were taught all this at a  little Guinea pig enclosure where all the little adorable balls of fluff were playfully running around. Cuy on a stick was probably no longer in my future.

At a few of the markets we strolled through we came across Cuy running around in little pens in one corner whilst their unlucky buddies were being grilled on a stick in another.  Yet it was not until we found a quaint little Peruvian restaurant just of the Plaza de Aramas in Cusco that the hubby finally ordered some Cuy. Truth be told it is a little easier to order  Cuy from the kitchen of a restaurant as opposed to sitting right next to you running around and being like I need a hug cause I’m cute or so we thought.

So it’s dinner time at the little Peruvian restaurant. Hilarious! Scary looking smile on the hubby’s Cuy entree. His ears are topped with red chili peppers and he greeted us with a big big toothy grin. Then we Mr & Mrs tourist  have photo shot moment, before Cuy is sent back for a quick decapitation. The Cuy is returned as a platter of meat with his scary smiley head sitting on top. I can not stop laughing, but my poor brave hubby has look of horror on his face. The cooks from the kitchen have their heads around the door  looking for the gringo that ordered the dish. The American couple with their teenage kids beside me cracked me up. Poor mom looking at my hubby’s dish, freaks out and tries to cover her sons eyes so they are saved from the look of horror on across the poor guinea pigs face. Really funny.

So he’s was a little conflicted, it was tough and chewy. Tastes like chicken? Tastes a little of game? He hated the skin so chewy. We went to Paddy’s Irish Pub for an after dinner drink. The shudder on this poor guy was funny, he was still having a hard time thinking about the dish, whilst sipping on a pint of Guinness.

So I have read that Cuy tastes similar to rabbit. Perhaps next time  we are in Peru and strolling through a market he can try it again we’ll just make sure he’s headless and not eye balling us daring him to take another bite.

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