- Food and Cooking
Eating Guinea Pigs
Tasty, Tasty Guinea Pigs
South America is a place of many wonders, natural and cultural. Indeed, South America has acted as the cradle of many popular global trends, like the Macarena, and the guinea pig. Since the 16th century, when traders first showed up at Western ports with cute fluffy little creatures, the West has been guinea pig mad. South America has been guinea pig mad for much longer, but for strikingly different reasons.
It turns out that the modern guinea pig, the one you keep in a hutch in the back yard, the one that whistles and squeals for food and then acts as if you might be about to slaughter it when you come to feed it has good reason to do so. You see, the Brazilian Guinea Pig, (also known as a 'Prea') is the modern
ancestor (if such a term makes sense) of the domestic guinea pig. And the domestic guinea pig is a popular source of food in South America.
may be pleased to know that although the wild Brazilian Guinea Pig is
not considered an endangered species, when it comes to eating guinea pigs, domesticated guinea pigs are usually first on the menu. If that
strikes you as somehow wrong, keep in mind that people in South America
first domesticated the guinea pig for food over 7,000 years ago, a
great long while before you or I had a chance to complain about it.
In Peru, cooked guinea pigs are called 'Cuy', and are prepared in several different ways. Some are stuffed and roasted, some are flattened and fried in what, frankly, looks like a fairly grotesque meal. It may seem strange, even somehow slightly cannibalistic to eat an animal capable of begging you to feed it, however we must remember, as we hug our non food source guinea pigs close, that in some parts of the world, people do not have the luxury of keeping little furry bundles of meat around purely for the pleasure of their company.
Indeed, it is not only the locals who enjoy chowing down on guinea pigs, tourists traveling through South America usually find a feast of guinea pig hard to turn down. In many cases, Cuy is the South American equivalent of America's apple pie. People speak proudly about how well their mothers or wives cook guinea pigs, and no doubt contention over who cooks the best guinea pig runs rife in tight knit families.Cuy are generally eaten by being picked up in both hands as the flesh is sucked off the thin bones, which are then ejected from the mouth. A single Cuy is a snack, three or four are recommended for a fully satisfying meal.
And the taste of guinea pig? Something like pork, apparently. Suddenly the names of these rodents, animals totally unrelated to actual pigs, makes total sense.