Is It Good To Eat?

I was on vacation last week.  (Sorry for neglecting my weekly post on all things Peru.)  I did not go anywhere, but instead had family visit me here at home.  I have to say that seeing your home from someone else’s perspective in interesting.  I take Eastern North Carolina for granted because I live here, but I had a chance to see it from a visitor’s perspective as well last week.

My brother, sister-in-law, and 13 month old niece spend the week with us.  They are foodies as well.  We spent a good portion of the week eating and drinking, as well as talking about eating and drinking.  Because “Baby D” is trying new foods each day, we began talking about what we would or wouldn’t eat.  It spurred a conversation on trying new foods.  I recounted by experience with cuy in Cusco, Peru.

Cuy were domesticated as far back as 2000 BC in the Andean region.  Cuy, or guinea pig, was considered the meat of the common folk during Incan times.  Today in rural areas of Peru cuy are still raised by families as a food and for ritual purposes.  In urban areas it is a traditional dish that is considered a delicacy.

On our visit to Ollantaytambo we visited the home of a local woman who had a slew of guinea pigs in her home.

She raised them for both as a food resource and for ritual purposes.

Al, our guide at Ollantaytambo, spoke briefly about one of these rituals.  Black guinea pigs are considered special.  They are used to cleanse people of illness and evil.  The animal is passed around the entire body of the affected person to absorb the illness or ill energy.  Once the transfer is made, the animal is sacrificed as a way to heal the individual.  Al, explained much more detail than I recount here, but alas this is all I can remember.


On our last night in Cusco, several of us went to the Plaza Grill in the Plaza de Armas to try some of the traditional cusine, including cuy.  The restaurant had both fried and baked cuy on its menu.  We opted for the baked cuy.  Sadly, I did not find it enjoyable.  However, I think it had more to do with the meat being over cooked than the fact it was guinea pig.  I would try it again if I had the opportunity.  We also tried some Alpaca (another domesticated animal that dates back to Inca times) chili and chicharrón.  Traditionally chicharrón is a dish made from fried pork rinds, but there are a variety of cuts of pork that are used which are meatier.  If you have never tried it, I suggest you do, MMMMM….YUMMO!


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Chair of Social Science, Humanities,
& Foreign Languages

Liberal Arts & University Transfer
Craven Community College

800 College Court
New Bern, NC 28562
Phone: 252.638.7328
Fax: 252.638.3231

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