Anyone for roast guinea pig? – in Peru

March 4, 2009 by  

Depending on your point of view you may find the Peruvian delicacy of roast guinea pig as a horrid way of treating our squeaking furry friends or just another local speciality to try. My friend Joanne decided to keep an open mind and give it a try on her trip to Peru.

In the town of Aguas Calientes, where Joanne was staying before her visit to Machu Picchu, the group stopped at the house of one of their guide’s relatives who had been brewing Chicha, the local maize beer. Apparently the chicha only keeps for a few days and so the villagers take it in turn to make the home brew, putting a red rag or plastic bag on a pole outside to let passers by know that it’s ready. Joanne tried both the red maize chicha which she thought tasted of strawberries and the yellow maize chicha which she found less appetising – the texture was a bit like an alcoholic smoothie.

As they were leaving the house, Joanne heard squeaking coming from the other side of the courtyard and when she enquired where the noise was coming from, was shown two stables full of guinea pigs running around. The first was full of fat little mummy guinea pigs, either pregnant or with their babies. The second stable was where the the guinea pigs were moved to fatten up before being sent to the great cooking pot in the sky.

Later, after she had come down the mountain from Machu Picchu, Joanne got to try out the local delicacy at a local restaurant as their guide had arranged for her group to have it as a starter to try. Beware! the Peruvians are very proud of their roast guinea pigs and can’t understand why anyone would not want to sample their local dish. It’s as natural to them as a Frenchman eating snails or an American eating a Big Mac.

The guinea pig arrived at the table looking as it it had been squashed flat by a rolling pin with a surprised expression and a pepper popped into it’s open mouth. It was stuffed with a mixture of spicy rice and vegetables and looked a bit like crispy duck but with a taste of chicken. The guinea pig was on a plate that was spun round and whichever piece ended up nearest to you was the bit you ate. Joanne was quite thankful that she got a leg rather than the head, which is considered the tastiest morsel although she found it quite bony.

She washed it down to a Pisco Sour and was pleased that the meat stew and potatoes that followed was a little closer to what she’d normally eat at home. So that was Joanne’s Christmas night dinner with a difference.

Are you one of those who tries every unusual food that’s going as part of the experience or do you stick to the familiar dishes that you’d eat at home? Would guinea pig be on your list of things to try?

Related posts
Christmas dancers in Cusco in Peru
Joanne’s cycle tour of Lima
A grown-up backpacker at Machu Picchu

See all Joanne’s photos on Flickr

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Comments

18 Comments on "Anyone for roast guinea pig? – in Peru"

  1. Foodie on Wed, 4th Mar 2009 8:33 am 

    Well I would imagine the head is a bit bony! I’m game for some guinea pig if it’s cooked well and I only have to eat a leg myself. You should check out my article on eating snails from your garden! You might get a kick out of it.

  2. jen laceda on Fri, 6th Mar 2009 1:58 pm 

    Hi Heather,
    Joanne is very brave for eating the guinea pig. I have a very “weak” stomach. If I do not like something, I have a tendency to gag (with matching teary eyes). I know I have to unlearn this so that whenever I find myself in the middle of an exotic culinary experience, I do not embarass my host or myself.
    P.S. Thanks for the passport tip re: Israel. I’m going to Morocco in May and wouldn’t want to be denied entry.

  3. everthenomad on Sun, 8th Mar 2009 1:27 pm 

    I did indeed try the roasted guinea pig on my visit to Peru in 2001. It stands out very vividly in my mind! I consider myself an open-minded traveler and eater of all things unusual, plus I have a very sturdy stomach. But when the creature came out of the kitchen, complete with the head, legs and all, my stomach turned. I had a few uncertain bites but simply couldn’t continue. It was one of the few foods I had to leave aside.

  4. klaus on Wed, 11th Mar 2009 9:43 pm 

    very good and interesting site which I will now visit frequently. regards

  5. Coca tea or Cappuccino - in Peru : Heather on her travels on Fri, 1st May 2009 7:02 am 

    [...] may also enjoy Anyone for roast guinea pig? in Peru Christmas dancers in Cusco in Peru A grown-up backpacker at Machu [...]

  6. Coca tea or Cappuccino - in Peru @ Travel News Bureau on Sun, 3rd May 2009 12:03 pm 

    [...] may also enjoy Anyone for roast guinea pig? in Peru Christmas dancers in Cusco in Peru A grown-up backpacker at Machu [...]

  7. Anyone for roast guinea pig in Peru Heather on her travels | Cast Iron Cookware on Tue, 26th May 2009 10:53 pm 

    [...] Anyone for roast guinea pig in Peru Heather on her travels Posted by root 21 hours ago (http://www.heatheronhertravels.com) Leave a comment depending on your point of view you may find the peruvian delicacy of beware the peruvians are very proud of their roast guinea pigs and can 39 t lifestyle theme by brian gardner powered by wordpress log in Discuss  |  Bury |  News | anyone for roast guinea pig in peru heather on her travels [...]

  8. Monday Pets: Dumb Guinea Pigs? « The Thoughtful Animal on Mon, 29th Mar 2010 7:32 am 

    [...] pigs are still an important source of meat in Peru. (They taste like rabbit, supposedly. Follow the link. I dare you. But don’t if you have a pet guinea pig. You’ll be sorry, and I will have [...]

  9. Magda Yott on Thu, 15th Jul 2010 1:59 pm 

    I really like what you write about here. We try and check your blog every day so keep up the good writing!

  10. erik on Tue, 2nd Nov 2010 9:32 pm 

    I just passed by and saw this. and i could just not stop to say “yummy” although it was posted back in 2009 Xd. but my opinion, sincerily, i like the Guinea Pig from Arequipa called “Cuy Chactau” better than that from Cusco. And originally it comes from Moquegua, but i´ve never eaten one there. anyways, i probably do like to eat the one from Arequipa more as i come from there. And to be honest, you shouln´dt be scared by the look of this plate. It´s actually pretty tasty (more than KFC) and also, healthy due to the natural feeding of the “cuy”. But anyways… i would also be pretty scared if i had to eat something like snails or something… and besides guinea pig is just one of the hundreds of traditional peruvian dishes so do not think you´ll be forced to eat this “southern” plate ;)

  11. uchiha0809 on Wed, 18th Jan 2012 4:09 am 

    Do you think pig farming is a good business?

  12. iloveguineapigs on Mon, 13th Aug 2012 6:27 pm 

    Thats cruel i love guinea pigs they are not meant for eating their loving companions.

  13. Heather on Mon, 13th Aug 2012 11:02 pm 

    @Iloveguineapigs Well, I know that in the west the guinea pigs are our furry friends but then different countries have different customs regarding what we eat and what we don’t. Many people keep rabbits as pets but in Greece they keep them in the garden ready to make a rabbit stew.

  14. Hey big spender | housegoeshome on Tue, 2nd Oct 2012 9:41 pm 

    [...] make your children cry. But they love ‘em spit-roasted in Peru, I hear. I quite enjoyed Heather On Her Travels‘ description of tasting the local delicacy: “The guinea pig arrived at the table [...]

  15. Ken G on Sat, 8th Dec 2012 5:41 pm 

    Half of all animal protein eaten in Peru is guinea pig.
    They eat barley grass.
    Taste like gamy pork.

  16. Heather Cowper on Sat, 8th Dec 2012 5:44 pm 

    @Ken Thanks, I wouldn’t mind trying one at all, except I worry there might be some small bones and it not be than a mouthful

  17. Lisa on Sun, 14th Apr 2013 8:07 am 

    As a child from 9 to 11 I had pet Guinea Pigs, and for that reason alone, I could NEVER eat one. I did, however, try monkey meat in 1978 in the Dominican Republic. I didn’t know what it was, and it was prepared inside little pastry crusts. When we finished eating, our “hosts” told us what we had just eaten. I must say, it really wasn’t that bad. I was only 16 at the time, and my spirit of adventure was just beginning. Since then, I have had many different foods from many different countries, but I have to admit, I don’t think I could ever eat something that I consider to be pets, ie, Guinea Pigs. :^(

  18. Heather Cowper on Sun, 14th Apr 2013 12:18 pm 

    @Lisa That’s quite understandable, although it makes us realise how cultural norms help set our expectations of what is normal. In the UK we keep rabbits as family pets, but when I go to Greece, my sister’s mother in law keeps them in hutches in the garden to use in stews.

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