Just before I started working with linguaschools, I went to our school in Cusco, one of the highest city’s in the world located in southeastern Peru, to improve my Spanish. I chose to stay with a host family to emerge myself even more in the language and to make me feel at home far away from home.
After a nice welcoming meal with my new Peruvian family, I went to bed and heard a little squeaking noise coming from the patio (terrace). I was so tired from my journey that I fell asleep without thinking about what it could be. But, after a couple of nights I realises the squeaking noise was there every evening. So I decided to ask my host mum what this noise was. She told me it where little guinea pigs (cuy) and they where not there to cuddle with. I will never forget the day when I learned about this typical tradition in Peru…
Most people see guinea pigs as fluffy sweet pets, but in Peru guinea pigs are a delicacy. The Incas have eaten them for centuries, but in the past it was only farmers in the Andes eating them. When the farmers migrated to Lima they carried on, and little by little other Peruvians from different backgrounds started to get a taste for it.
Traditionally guinea pig is served with teeth and claws, chopped up and deep fried a bit like chicken on the local streets, a method that put many people off. But there are chefs searching for a more user-friendly recipe. They take out all the bones and cook it the whole night, then they cook it.
I’m always open to try new things even though this was a bit out of my comfort zone. But, I ate a guinea pig and it was ok, a bit to much of the little bones, a bit like chicken and never again.
To end this post with a smile on your face…did you know about the Guinea Pig Festival in Peru? This is a once a year celebration where people dress up their little friends. Prizes are awarded for “best dressed guinea pig” and “biggest guinea pig”. After the dress parade, they are pampered and fed a delicious meal fit for a king!