Guinea Pig – it’s what’s for supper

A key element of travel is to experience the local cuisine – try new things!  And in this part of South America, that means Guinea Pig (“cuy”).  i’ve had them as pets, adore the little fur-balls, and struggled with the concept, but wanted to dive in and experience South America.  One of the locals pointed out that they have names for the Guinea Pigs here – “Monday, Tuesday, Saturday….”.  They are food, pure and simple. 

At a restaurant in Cuzco, i had the opportunity to taste cuy.  As i pulled a small piece of meat off the tiny, fish-like bones, i just let myself forget about the “ranch” i used to manage.  It didn’t taste bad.  Maybe a bit gamey, and strong.  Commenting that it was unlike anything i’d ever tasted, my travelmate, LP, said “It’s a rodent.  Have you ever eaten rodent before?”.  Choking down the last bit, i decided to leave the rest for the others…

If you know your Incan history, they were “conquered” by Pizarro in the mid-1500’s.  With assistance of germs, of course… The local people eventually accepted Catholicism, but not without some resistance.  Indiginous artists were employed to create artwork for the new cathedrals, and apparently liked to sneak in subliminal (and not so subliminal) messages.  To make the new religion more real to the natives, traditional Christian art would incorporate local flavor – and nowhere is this more evident than in a version of The Last Supper, found in the Cathedral in Cuzco.

Until i visited Cuzco, i had no idea that Jesus and his disciples feasted on roast guinea pig.  Who knew? 

There are other things about this version of The Last Supper that are curious as well.  Notice Judas in the lower right hand corner.  The artist chose to make him look like Francisco Pizarro, Spanish conquistador over the Incas.  He’s holding a small bag of coins in his hand under the table – and from just the right angle, it even appears that he’s pleasuring himself.*

Talk about culture clash… i wonder if ol’ Pizarro had any idea he’d be making tourists giggle 500 years later?


* Naturally, i was the first one to notice, but once i enthusiastically pointed it out to my travel mates, they all agreed.  Maybe just to get me to shut up…

20 thoughts on “Guinea Pig – it’s what’s for supper

  1. Very adventurous of you to try the rodent. Don’t think I could have choked down even a bite, too many guinea pig friends as a kid. Also … rodent.
    As for Judas holding his bag, I’m glad you pointed that out. Travel is so broadening, you get exposed (heh) to so many new things.

  2. Bravo on your brave cuisine challenge – you could be a serious contender for the next Amazing Race. Did you eat Thursday or Friday?

    Oh no, now I can’t get Hammy Hamster out of my thoughts … (did that series ever make it outside of Canada?)

  3. I think you noticed because you hang out with Nurse Myra all the time. I don’t know about eating guinea pig, but I hear my Dad was out hunting squirrel for dinner the day I was born. Fortunately, he didn’t hunt when I was a kid, and at any rate, there weren’t many squirrels where we lived.

  4. wow… you ARE a geek… getting connectivity while out of range. i’m betting you have a satellite dish made of aluminum foil from last night’s dinner and some old toothbrushes, have hijacked a signal from some spy satellite, and, besides blogging, picking up the Playboy channel on cable… clever girl!

    i’ve been told if you eat lobster you’re actually eating the garbage cleaner of the sea bottom, so guinea pig is a step up!

  5. echoing archie…jpg jpg jpg please uncle keith

    silverstar, I wish I did get to hang out with daisyfae more often. sadly it was just for one week in spain. but we bonded like superglue

  6. nm – did two posts my last day in Peru, with one set to launch 24 hours later. experimenting with that “post-dating” thing… archie gave me the idea…

    bc – felt mildly guilty about eating “goonie”, but here, it’s just food… and i’m still amused by the fact that an artist from the 1600’s made Pizarro/Judas a monkey-spanking nancy-boy… that’s just fun!

    tNb – no “amazing race” for me. my travel involves WAAAAAY too much drinking to be that functional. Never had “Hammy Hamster”, but i did sing “to all the Pig’s i’ve loved before…” in my head as i was chomping on Tuesday…

    uncle keith – did you shave him first? i’m told that mild doses of benadryl can help make the gerbil more agreeable. please don’t consider yourself a failure… try, try again. with jpg, jpg, jpg, please…

    unbearable banishment – i can highly recommend the alpaca. lean, tasty meat… the food here has been fabulous. from the fine restaurants to the roadside diners we’ve tumble into, the folks in these parts know how to prep their meat!

    dolce – and one of my new pals from NYC was right there with me. nice to have a partner in pervo-crime along for the silliness… i think he was a bit disappointed not to have spotted it first!

    silverstar – i’m just suffering massively arrested development… and i’d forgotten that there are people in my family that eat squirrel and possum! guess if i’d have ever been to one of those cook outs, i might have been less surprised at the taste of guinea pig…

    paisley – if i were near death, starving, or had to do something exreme to survive, i have no doubt i could eat a rat… but not so long as there are McDonald’s restaurants along the side of the road.

    archie – of COURSE jesus masturbated! what do you think those stigmata were really for? [ZZZZZZZZZZZZZap] Owch… damn lightning… did you get struck too?

    gnu – alas, nothing so exotic…. just a post-dated post. there was internet connection available for $15/hour on board the ship, but i decided that i’d rather spend the money on 3 shots of whiskey in the jacuzzi bar… priorities…

    rob – yeah…. i can seriously get back in touch with my “i don’t like eating anything with a face” mode after this trip. but if we weren’t supposed to eat animals, then why did god make them so tasty?

    annie – it was a surreal moment. ornate, European (colonial) cathedral, featuring such an amazing piece of art (it was about 20′ x 15′). i’m sure the nuns wouldn’t sanction the “bag play” either… Judas would have gotten his hand whacked with a ruler for sure…

    alex – i thought everyone had a wanking spanish conquistador in the garage as a child?

    nm – yes. superglue… and i’ve had more than one moment on this excursion thinking of how much fun it would have been to be traveling with you! we need to get working on plans for 2009!

  7. We used to have guinea pigs when I was a kid, and I just don’t think I could eat them, regardless of how tasty they are! Mind you, other than chicken, I don’t eat much meat at all – I justify the chicken because birds have beady little eyes and horrible pointy beaks…

  8. cat – i probably wouldn’t make a meal out of them. they are great pets… if i were starving? maybe… for me? i just like my meat processed beyond recognition. no eyes, fins, feathers, feet or claws… and don’t get me started on “softshell crab”. blechhh…

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  11. I’m certain Pizarro captured day one in the age of masturbation and sinful lust, lol. Also, I’m sure this is the actual reason for Judas’ negative associations even today. I don’t buy those traitor stories… Jesus being such an anti abortionist and masturbator… and anything pleasurable. This is a far more plausible explanation!

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