Yep, we ate that.
It’s one of those things that tourists do in South America. Local people also eat cuy – otherwise known as guinea pig – and have done for centuries in the Andean regions. We’ll try pretty much anything, and since there was an Andean food fair in Huaraz, we thought what better time to eat cuy?
First mistake: wanting the novelty of eating something with recognizable head and feet, we ordered the big portion, which set us back 20 soles. That’s quite expensive. Second mistake: this was the last one on the barbecue and consequently was over-cooked as it had been sitting there a long time. Third mistake: getting it as a take-away meant we had to eat it on a park bench with a plastic fork. This was not easy because of the aforementioned over-cooking.
It was tough. Incredibly tough. Impossible, in fact, to break through the leathery skin which was about a centimeter thick (why such a small animal has such thick skin I’ll never understand). Impossible also to rip the skin off the body to reveal the flesh beneath. This meant we had to turn the thing over – it was basically half a carcass which had been splayed out and cooked – to try to get at the meat underneath. Instead, this just exposed some charred innards, little rodent teeth and tiny ribs which seemed to have no meat on them. We managed to pick at the back leg and get some strands of flesh but it wasn’t much more than a mouthful. I’d like to compare it to rabbit, except I couldn’t really tell much about the taste or texture from this measly meal.
If we’d been inclined to attack it with our teeth and nails, we could have dismembered it a bit more and perhaps liberated more flesh. But honestly, it didn’t seem worth it. Instead, we ate the boiled potatoes and spicy sauce that came with it (really delicious sauce, I’ll add) and wished we’d ordered the soup instead.
If you’d like to know more about cuy cuisine, check out Infused Exposures, a travel food blog of South America.