exotic peruvian food: Guinea Pig

Perhaps you’ll be walking down the street in Lima, after checking into your hostel, backpack load set down in your dorm room. Perhaps you’ll pass by a market and see the cute little furry guinea pigs in a cage trampling over one another. You’ll think, “oh, how cute!” However, here in Peru Guinea Pigs are not kept as pets-they’re eaten.


Now, I know what you’re thinking-that it’s a shame that such furry cuties are skewed up for the split. You might have had a guinea pig as a pet when you were younger, or perhaps you’ve seen one of those “cute animal wheels” videos, where they stick their soft pink noses into the camera. All of this previous history will make you aggressively anti-guinea pig cuisine, if you let it.

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Though, none of your history with this animal has anything to do with the fact that here, guinea pig is a delicacy. You’ll find the meat on sticks, fried and chucked in with chifa rice chaufa, or marinated in some delicate sauce that’ll make your mouth water.

If you’ve eaten rabbit, guinea pig is not much different. You will be happy to know that the meat is high in protein, and low in fat and cholesterol. Indeed, part of the effort you’ll have to put forth to eat it might include tearing it off of the bony carcass. Guinea pig comes from Peru in the first place, so it was a mark of cuisine before it was a pet. And as for those who aren’t convinced, you should know that Peru exports a new breed of “super guinea pig” to Europe, the US and Japan. Yes, it’s for eating.

So, should you eat the guinea pig or not? As long as you’re in Peru, there’s nothing strange about the act. Guinea pigs have been cooked for centuries, and were once sacrificed to the Incan gods. In a morphological coincidence, you might see depictions of The Last Supper with the players eating roasted guinea pig!

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If you’re someone who likes to try something new, then this is for you. Otherwise, just try not to look the guineas in their hollowed out eye sockets!