Peruvian Guinea Pig Festival
I never had guinea pigs as pets, but if you did or still do, you might want to skip the rest of this story because it doesn’t have a happy ending. Who knew there was such a thing as a Guinea Pig Festival?
In January 2007 I traveled to Peru to hike in Machu Picchu. I spent time in Cuzco and the surrounding area where I discovered that guinea pigs are a ‘hobby farm’ crop for the locals and considered a delicacy. I saw crates made out of chicken wire filled with guinea pigs at the farmer’s market, only to learn that they would most likely become someone’s delicious dinner.
Then we went to the home of a local where a ‘herd’ of guinea pigs wandered around. The house was quite primitive, no electricity or plumbing, and probably very much like the homes were hundreds of years ago. Since they breed like rabbits, they’re often used to supplement incomes.
Now for the pièce de résistance. I think roasted guinea pig is an acquired taste, but I try hard to experience as much foreign culture as possible when traveling. I can now say I tried said cuy, and it definitely did not taste like chicken!
At least the waiter carved it away from the table so it wasn’t served with head and feet intact!