I know you must be asking yourself that “how can you eat such a cute creature like a guinea pig?” I asked myself the same question over an over.
Despite my hesitations, I tried it anyway. I love trying new things once in a lifetime, and this was one of them. I went to one of the local restaurants near Pisaq town in the Cusco region. Ordering the dish was easy because the restaurant specializes in Guinea pig dishes. The meal served with stuffed green pepper, boiled sliced potatoes, and pasta with tomato sauce. I was told to use my both hands when I eat because locals believe that the guinea pig will be tastier when you use your hands. When the dish arrived, I sifted through it and questioned my behavior once more and closed my eyes and took a bite. It was a taste I was never familiar with – didn’t taste like chicken or fish even though that was my expectation. It had dark juicy meat, but the taste is entirely different so you should try it yourself. It didn’t taste like anything I ate something before. I still remember the smell of the guinea pig how cannot I.
Guinea pig dishes are a traditional meal in Peru and are the priciest meals than the rest at the restaurants. They often cooked as a whole with the head, teeth, ears, and the other parts left intact. It usually served fried or roasted along with some vegetables, potatoes, and pasta or rice. People of Peru typically eat them on special occasions like birthdays, weddings, religious ceremonies. It is not an everyday meal. I learned that the Guinea pig has no cholesterol compared with other meats, so doctors in Peru highly recommend them.
I thought the main reason why Peruvians eat guinea pig was related to their religion. Because there is a well-known painting hangs in the famous cathedral in the center of Cusco, the replica of Da Vinci’s painting call “The Last Supper,” and in that painting, Christ and the 12 disciples are seated around a platter of guinea pig. Then I learned that the tradition had been there long before Spanish arrived. Since the Spaniard are the ones, who spread the Catholic religion in Peru. Even according to some locals, long time ago the Incas used to sacrifice guinea pigs and llamas in the central plaza of Cusco in each year of July so the Sun God would not harm their food resources. After the Spaniards came to Peru, they saw the guinea pigs as pets, not as food. Whenever they traveled to Spain, they took a few with them to their loved ones as gifts.
These are some highlights for Peruvian delicacy so don’t hesitate to try some when you visit Peru as I did. Don’t forget traveling is all about the experience.