When I was little, I had a calico guinea pig named Candy. I was devastated, as much as a six-year-old could be, when she died. Somewhere, I still have the photograph of her running across the keys on our piano. So, it was a little unsettling to find out that here in Ecuador they do eat these adorable rodents that we call pets. Today, Mother’s Day, was the first time I got the chance to eat one.
Ecuadorians will often tell me that the cuy here are different from the ones we have in the US. In Ecuador they are bigger, fatter, more muscular, etc. I’ll let you be the judge of that:
I don’t mean to sway your opinion, but it’s a toss-up, right? Ecuadorian cuy is relatively expensive and time-consuming to prepare. You can expect to pay 20$-30$ in a restaurant for the pleasure of eating one. Since today was a special occasion, we ordered up 9 raw, skinned and gutted guinea pigs to cook for Mother’s Day dinner.
From everything I’ve heard about cuy experiences from other volunteers, these were excellent: meaty, juicy, with a flavor something like pork and chicken. Yes, big surprise, chicken. That fact aside, I did have a difficult time eating my little friend. I’m usually up for all kinds of weird culinary adventures, but I felt like a traitor eating a guinea pig. So, I highly recommend you try it if you’re in Ecuador, or heading this way, and maybe don’t focus on memories of a childhood pet while you’re eating.