To Cuy Or Not to Cuy

Recently, the comments section on one of Alison Cook’s latest blogs spun away from the topic directly at hand (a week’s worth of gourmet meals cooked by Peru’s finest chefs at Cafe Artiste)  and into the philosophical question of whether or not to eat cuy.

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Cuy, for the uninitiated, is guinea pig.  It’s a traditional food in Peru and Ecuador.  If you have the Travel Channel, I’m sure you’ve seen Andrew Zimmern or Anthony Bourdain scarfing it down at one point or another.

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Looks tasty, actually.

So, let’s hear it: would you eat cuy?  Could you put your warm-fuzzies for guinea pigs away to try a bite of what is supposed to be quite delicious, sweet, luscious meat?  Or would you burst into tears / wretch at the thought of eating something that either reminds you of (a) the family pet or (b) a rat?

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49 responses to “To Cuy Or Not to Cuy

  1. All I can say is “mmm… dead animal”. Though I do admit to having a hard time eating domestic animal (cat, dog, horse) meat… too close to eating my own friends for me.

  2. Now that you mention it, I’ve always been curious about the French predilection for horse meat…but never curious enough to try it. :(

  3. I must have absolutely NO culinary curiosity. I blame my chocolate aversion for that.

    I don’t think I would’ve taken a bite of the dog either.

    http://www.worldhum.com/dispatches/item/the_dogs_of_pohnpei_20080103

  4. I’ll eat it if you will. Just kidding, I’d have a go at it anyway. Pass the chimichurri, please.

  5. I would, too. I mean, after a lifetime spent eating rabbit and rattlesnake and turtle and quail and alligator and the delicious chitlins and oxtails that I’m so addicted to, guinea pig would be a breeze. Why not?

  6. I was in Peru in September and my host brought me to a small town whose name I can’t remember right now, just south of Cuzco that is said to be the Cuy capital of Peru. From one end of town to the other every building is a Cuy restaurant. On the weekends it is standing room only. We went to his favorite and enjoyed a traditional Peruvian dish just the way it was meant to be. I will say that it is a lot of work for a small amount of protein but if they gave you that amount of food without having to work at it where would the fun be. It is something that we in the land of plenty will never get used to. And when they bring that little critter to your table whole and roasted you really need to find the courage to dig in. Oh! And one more thing: It doesn’t taste like chicken.

  7. I used to have a guinea pig as a pet, so, no, I wouldnt eat one.

    My brother told me years ago about dogs being eaten in some asian countries….he was in military and saw it first hand. I just couldnt eat any pet animal.

  8. i would neva it fuckin guinea pig u r all fuckin nasty people and i am goin to report u to the r.s.p.c.a and u will not get away wth eatin guinea pig . they are nice animals and pets ..

    • Lol kim and Beeky319 you both are fucking ethnocentric idiots

      • I agree.
        Also, I really doubt the RSPCA/SPCA has any jurisdiction in Peru (let alone anywhere else, for that matter) :P

      • I agree! They wouldn’t even have their guinea pig pets if it wasn’t for Peruvians domesticating them for food. If anything guinea pig owners should be grateful to guinea pig eaters! They are keeping food as pets.

  9. That’s horrible!! I can’t stand that!!! Don’t eat guinea pigs – you’ll know what will happen to you!! I have 2 cute little guinea pigs and I would never eat them or eat ANY guinea pig in my whole LIFE!!!

  10. Come off it people. These critters are native to the Andes and were bred for eating and not to be kept as Pets. How many chickens, turkeys, pigs, lambs, and cows do Americans kill? Cows are sacred to Hindus but I don’t see any of you morons getting worked up about it. And to all those vegetarians, if you are willing to supply these people with an alternative and economical protein source, then please do. but until then…SHUT THE HELL UP.
    My Family is Peruvian and Cuy is DELICIOUS! And as we are feasting on those little cuties I will try to picture you face s all covered with tears and laugh to myself while I savor every morsel. MMMMMM! Buen PROVECHO!!!!!

  11. AHAHAHAHAHA….I’m sorry but man oh man, there’s always a double standard to somthing, and if anything I’m going to have to agree with mr. mike here. If I was given the opportunity and try a guinea pig, hell yeah I wouldn’t hesitate to try it.
    Funny how being born and raised an American people have this mind set “If it’s cute don’t eat, it’s animal cruelty, but hey it’s okay to slaughter a chicken or a cow.” I say fuck it, if it’s edible eat it. And if we’re at the top of the food chain…I’d like to keep it that way. Ya’ll have a nice day.

  12. Guinea pigs or cuyes (as we call them) have been bred by ancient people in Peru, way before the arrival of conquistadors. It was domesticated and used as food source (remember that Europeans brought pigs and cows, they were unknown by that time) and also to diagnose diseases when rubbed against the body. Later on, they were traded to Europe as exotic pets.
    So my point is this: My people have been using this extraordinary animal for countless purposes and we feel proud of our heritage. If you feel repulsed just by the thought of eating a guinea pig, that’s fine; but please, do not call us nasty primitive savages, ’cause we know this animal from thousands of years ago, not like since the 16th century.

  13. Nice info

  14. the info was awsume, I learned alot about cuy. It was amazing

  15. HAHAHA! YES! I would totally eat a guinea pig. I’m hella curious after seeing Anthony Bordain (sp?) on the TV eatin’ some roasty piggers for his Halloween special (the tarantualas looked kinda tasty, too) Now here’s the catch: I own a guinea pig, her name is Sniffles. I’ve had dozens over my lifetime, they’re my favorite pet. But I’ve never ate one, and I’m not a person to pass on anything new (or ancient, hmm). I’ve had chickens as pets and I eat them, ya know? I want to find an Ecuadorian or Peruvian market and get some cuy and have a real party (my friends are far from foodies but maybe I can sway them) Any info on finding such a retailer? Maybe the Mexican mercados have em. (I live in Delaware near Rehoboth)

  16. PS: for those concerned, and I’m sure there’s quite a few of you, Sniffles is safe and I promise I wont knosh her fuzzy lil tushy. There. Annonymous piggies only.

  17. My name is Melissa and i Think Eating Guinea pigs is disgusting i dont’ think you should eat then they are so cute and innocent. i makes me want to cry.
    i have two guinea pig and i love them so much. it makes me so angry and upset the way people treat guinea pigs in these counties.

    from Melissa Prowse

  18. Ok, yes, I have guinea pigs. And yes I would eat cuy, especially if (someday hopefully) in South America. People have chickens & pot belly pigs as pets & those were also developed as livestock. Get over your self centered self, our american main culture is not the only one.

  19. Hummm, Guinea Pigs is used as food many many time before they’re pets, so chill people, otherwise… they have very GOOD TASTE, just try the delicious dish called “CUY CHACTADO”, simply delicious!

  20. Hell Yeah!!!
    I’d Eat a Cuy in a heart beat … It’s better than rabbit!!

  21. I’m a Carnivore and proud of it and I’m from Peru. I spoke Quechua and I’m of Incan decent not many know this but we the Inca domesticated the potato before it was a poisonous root. Eating animals is not wrong, they would eat you if they had a chance.
    So what if they look cute i don’t see anyone at KFC crying over the death of adult chickens that were cute little chicks before the got big. If anything Cuy are raised in a loving environment feed only alfalfa, breed and then they are eaten. They don’t have animal factories like the US and aren’t pumped with hormones.

    BTW I would suggest you try Anticuchos!
    aka skewered cow hearts they are delicious!

  22. Guinea Pigs, in my country known as “porquinhos da Índia”, are just a very healthy alternative source of protein – lean meat with low cholesterol – and very, very tasty. Just tried it and tell me later. At your choice: grilled, baked or fried! Also good as a stew! North Americans are among the most conservative people in many things including food habits. Junk food watered down with coca-cola is much better… Ah! Ah! Ah! To be convinced, like what happened with red wine and olive oil, there is a need to first do a lot of research! And after is still a pet or a rodent. But that’s good! If they would also eat the good stuff, there would be much less left to the cruel and poor pet-eaters.

  23. I would make it a law that people can’t eat guinea pigs :p and also if you watch a show called “south park” you would be scared to eat them.

    • shut up thomas .j all the south americans eat a “cuy” (guinea pigs) .

      the G.p come to the world only to be eaten the south americans eat them! but the U.S.A or other countries domesticated G.P like a pet!

      THE INCAS EAT G.P 5000 b.c or more!

  24. amy chamberlain

    HOW DER YOU EVER THINK ABOUT EATING A POORE RODENT. Bastards Die In A hole I Say. Thats Sick! Eat A Dead Cow If You Wanna Eat A Rodent. You Make Me Sick. DIE IN HELL ALL OFF YOU!

    • How* do* you* ever* think* about* eating* a* poor* rodent*. Bastards die* in* a* hole I say*. That’s* sick!* Eat a* dead* cow** if* you* wanna* eat* a* rodent*. You make* me* sick.* Die* in* Hell* all* of* you!**

      **Cow isn’t a rodent. Your logic is invalid.
      **And it’s technically true, it was a dietary law in the OT that you couldn’t eat a bunch of stuff (incl. rodents), but Jesus says that it is not what you eat that makes you unclean. So your moral accusations are also invalid.

  25. Due to current depression I have been enjoying “coy” meat for several years now it is alomost identical to farm rabbit. I breed my own but have obtained many from newspaper ads that offer “free guina pig to good home”.

  26. LOL, When I was a teenager I when to Peru to visit my mother family. We when to a hole in the wall resturant and I was told we where going to eat Cuy. When I ask what is cuy? MY mother simply reply it was like a rabbit but smaller. So i thought it was a rabbit. and having eaten rabbit before I wasnt worried.
    they gave me my food and i looked at the little bbq body and thought it didnt look like a rabbit. but ate it. I remeber it being good and tasting like chicken but way too over salted. I loved the crispy skin and meat.
    Last year I found out what Cuy was and was horrifed that I eaten Guinea Pig. I told my mom what the word Cuy ment and it wasnt anything like a rabbit. There not even the same spieces. Rat are closer to Guinea Pigs.
    after getting over the shock i still like eatting Cuy. And if i was in Peru I would eat them again. Opt the salt.
    I even work at a pet shop that sell Guinea Pigs. I think they know I’ve eatten one of their comrades. Oh well they are yummy- good.
    and remeber its alway good to try new things.

  27. Man cuy sounds good you iconciderate jerks talking about somebodies culture us americans are close minded idiots and if i had a chance id sneak into your rodent loving homes slaughter your pets and serve them to you for breakfeast
    love honest american

  28. dear honest american you can talk all the shit you want and by the way i dont have any pets i already at him so shut up you back tracked insesitive jerk

  29. leave honest american alone every one has there own looks and opinions and you should respect that

  30. you know guinea pig reminds me of chinchillas they look like theyd be an apitizer of some sort like you could pop them in your mouth and crunch
    pleseant thoughts Honest American

  31. Every ones a critic

    chinchillas WTF!?!? why are you bringing those furry rodents into this you F***ing idiot you really piss me off with your stupid comments.

    with hate and rage Every ones a critic

  32. Dear Every ones a critic your right i dserve everry thing you said but id like to point out one thing a guinea pig is basicly a rodent and if not its closely related. so as long as we are spreading messages of love you can keep your idiotic critisisms to yourself just cuz you have an iq of 2 and resonate in your own self wallowing batch of compleate and total idiocy doesnt mean you can be a jerk to the true and honest
    love Honest American
    p.s. do they eat everything in the guine pig like the brains and liver so forth

  33. Every ones a critic

    W……T…….F what are you talkin about these arnt messages of love you f****ing idiot and yes it does mean i can be a jerk because i am awsome and i have a higher iq than you i have 2 you have 0 so your stupider and yes they do eat every thing

    Every ones a critic

  34. Mary had a little lamb
    She also had some beef
    But best of all she liked to chew
    a cuy between her teef

    Just come back from Peru – great snack but prefer cerviche and a Pisco Sour

  35. i never eat cuy, and i never will, but I’ll tell you what.. i would eat pussy any day

  36. My daughter lived in Ecuador for a year and a half and had cuy. She may not have had a great cook. She said it was nothing to write home about (although she did write home about it…rofl). I’d like to try it at least once. Heck. We ate pet chickens, rabbits, goats and cows. We just knew that at some point in their little lives they’re going to go in the freezer. I just didn’t want to be around for the killing part.

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  38. Way cool! Some extremely valid points! I
    appreciate you writing this post and the rest
    of the site is also very good.

  39. I agree! They wouldn’t even have their guinea pig pets if it wasn’t for Peruvians domesticating them for food. If anything guinea pig owners should be grateful to guinea pig eaters! They are keeping food as pets.

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