GUINEA PIGS OR CUY
“Have you tried cuy yet?”
You’re bound to be asked this upon your arrival in Ecuador, and sooner or later, you will indeed find yourself face to face with a guinea pig. Today was that very important day for me. I went to the countryside with our landlords, who are quickly becoming our new family, and we roasted three cuys over an open fire. One of those cuys was the one that has lived in a big cage beside our house since we moved in.
Cuy is eaten throughout the Andes, particularly for important meals or celebrations. Apparently, because they take up so little room while being raised, they are more profitable than other animals that need more space to live. Our family here also insists that they are incredibly clean animals, as they live only on grass.
Today we roasted (al horno) the cuy, just like everywhere else I’ve seen in Ecuador, though apparently every country and region cooks the delicacy in different ways. While we were waiting for the cuy to cook, we ate plantains, potatoes, hominy, and pork, all piled together on a plate, which you can see in one of the photos. Before the cuy was served, the feet were popped off and eaten for good luck. I couldn’t bring myself to eat toenails, so I waited for the meal a few minutes later. I have to admit, I didn’t love it. In general, I find food in Ecuador too salty, and the same applied to the cuy. But it was an incredibly unique experience, one I’m so glad to have had. If you ever make it to the Andes, don’t let your terror get in the way of trying this delicacy.