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?

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* 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…