Guinea Pig, (cuy): it’s a delicacy here. Almost every menu has it and before arriving in Peru we were looking forward to trying these cute little critters. During our first few weeks in Puno and Arequipa, for some reason or another the option never really presented itself to us. The thought and enthusiasm of trying something so new and native was still very appealing though.
As our time in Peru passed, more thoughts came to mind about this “delicacy”. For me at least, it seems aimed at the tourist market (even though some locals love it and rave about it) the prices are more expensive than anything else on the menu, including non-native dishes like Chinese and Mexican plus the other local delicious meat of alpaca, (see La Paz post about that). Restaurant prices for these little guys range between 45–65 soles (£9-£13.50) which isn’t a lot but alpaca comes in about £4-£6 a steak with all the trimmings.
We heard stories from locals and other travellers about the fiddlyness of it, how it’s cooked whole and you have to pick the meat off the teeny tiny bones. Even more fiddly than picking the bones out of a whole trout.
Another option was to buy freshly shaved dead guinea pigs from the local San Pedro market in Cusco for 20 soles (about £4.20) and cook it yourself, but with our lack of knowledge, we wouldn’t really know where to begin! Sounds fun right?
It was starting to feel like it was more of a fad than a real delicacy, so we decided to give this one a miss in the end, not for lack of trying but for the build-up it had generated and the price tag that goes with it. These piggies could probably never live up to the hype, unlike Alpaca which still remains the best meat I’ve ever tasted, and very healthy, too.