Cuy (Guinea pig) is perhaps one of the more unusual meats you might run into in South America. I’ve heard a few people get squeamish about eating these cute little guys, but there are plenty of good reasons why cuy was once a stable in the Andes. Given how little cuy need to survive, they produce a comparatively large amount of meat, and are high in protein. They’re easy to domesticate and fairly straight-forward to care for, making them a convenient meal for people living off the inhospitable land high in the Andes.
It can be a little difficult for tourists to try cuy. These cuddly rodents can be eaten in Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia, but most typical street-side restaurants don’t plate them up. Your options are to get a local friend to hook you up, or fork out for an expensive meal at a restaurant geared towards tourists.
The cuy pictured above was served at Mama Clorinda in Quito’s Mariscal for a pricey $30. It seemed very nicely cooked, and served two comfortably.
Whichever option you go for, the experience will be worth the effort, though the taste might seem surprisingly familiar. Cuy has a flavour pretty close to pork. Like pork, there’s plenty of fat, and the skin is crispy. If not overdone, I found the tiny ears particularly delicious. Try it, at least for the experience.