South America Living

I Couldn’t Do It….

Guinea Pig:  Before

Guinea Pig: Before

I consider myself an adventurous eater. Seriously.
Bull testicles? Si senor!
Mute dog? No problema!
Llama? Claro que si!
Suckling pig drowned in its own blood? Absolutamente!
Ant eggs? Ants themselves? Porsupuesto!

Guinea Pig? NO WAY!

Maybe it’s because with all the other unusual, if not bizarre ingredients I list above, when the plates arrived they no longer resembled the original owner of the body — whether it was a dog or a pig or a lowly ant. Not recognizable. No name. No warm and fuzzy childhood memories associated with it. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Zero.
But with CUY there is no getting around it. There is no plausible deniability left. You are about to eat…that’s right — GUNEA PIG.

I can still see my little sister Katy running around after Frankie her guinea pig — her, giggling with delight as she caught up to it; Frankie squealing with what was surely fright — but what was never replaced with the prospect of death in his little noggin. Nooooo! Frankie was a pet. Maybe not a treasured family pet, I don’t remember that he “lasted” that long. But a pet. Unmistakably. Undeniably. A pet. Catching him was a game…catch and release. You know the drill….

cuy after
In Peru, cuy is prepared a few ways. Stuffed and roasted, spicy and quartered, or flattened whole and fried. Cuy provides over 50 percent of Peru’s animal protein. Many people raise guinea pigs at home, and others buy them killed and cleaned in the meat section of the market. Ask a Peruvian if he or she eats cuy, and you will hear that person wax sentimental about the way his mama prepared it–just the same way an American will rhapsodize about Mom’s apple pie or fried chicken. But regardless, when they arrive at the table — you know they are guinea pigs. Oh yeah —- you know it.

So — why did my stomach turn at the thought of devouring Frankie the guinea pig? Am I a xenophobe? An ethnocentrist? I mean, I don’t think it’s barbarian or taboo or anything. But..I just could not do it.

But maybe you can. Go ahead — eat your little sister’s pet. I dare ya!
And, as always…

Buen Provecho!.

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