Do They Eat Guinea Pigs In Peru?

Share it with Your Friends!

Have you ever been to Peru? If not, then you might be wondering,  do they eat guinea pigs over there? That is the question on every traveler’s mind when they are booking their trip to this country. But how can you know for sure? The answer will surprise you.

Yes, people in Peru do eat guinea pigs, and this makes it a popular dish there. According to statistics, Peruvians consume about 65 million guinea pigs per year. This is because they are pretty inexpensive to raise and take very little space on the farm compared to other animals. 

Guinea pigs are also popular in Peru as a delicacy because they are tasty and nutritious. They have high proteins and low fat. Consuming them has also been part of their culture for a long time, so that’s why it still remains popular.

Now that you know that people in Peru eat guinea pigs, you may be wondering, why do Peruvians eat guinea pigs?

Let’s answer that in the next question. Keep reading below!

Why Do They Eat Guinea Pigs in Peru?

You will find it surprising why people in Peru eat guinea pigs and don’t keep them as pets. Here are some of the reasons:

It’s Part of Their Culture

Roast guinea pig also known as Cuy
Photo Credit: Flickr.com

“In Peru, guinea pigs are a delicacy and a part of the culture. They don’t refer to it as a guinea pig but as “cuy.” They typically serve the “cuy” as an appetizer or entrée, not as a main dish. 

Sometimes, they mark special occasions by family dinners that feature “cuy” as the main meal. They would eat this dish together with other meals like potatoes.

Before the European colonizers went to Peru, guinea pigs used to be an essential part of their pre-colonial diet. Later on, Europeans introduced them to other meals like pigs, chicken, and cows. However, guinea pigs have always continued to be part of their diet.

They Are Delicious

The taste is one of the best parts about eating “cuy” as it can be very fatty and juicy with a savory flavor. This crunchy skin has a unique taste. People who have eaten guinea pigs say that it tastes like chicken or pork, but also with its own flavor. 

The taste is almost similar to that of rabbit meat. The texture of the flesh is more dense than chicken but less so than pork. 

Guinea pigs are normally served flattened with the head or sometimes without the head, after being grilled, boiled, or fried. It depends on your preference, but most people prefer to serve It whole without removing the head. 

They are Organic

The reason for this is simple. Guinea pigs eat grass and other vegetation instead of GMO corn or soy, which is often used with farm animals. Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are manufactured in a laboratory and contain DNA that has been artificially manipulated. 

Research suggests that GMO crops may also produce altered proteins in the plants. They do things like resist pests or grow at colder temperatures than normal.

Since guinea pigs don’t eat GMO plants, this makes their meat much healthier as it doesn’t contain all of the antibiotics and chemicals people use in treating animals like chicken or pigs. This meat is also much leaner than traditional farm animals. 

What Kind of Guinea Pig Do They Eat in Peru?

Two Peruvian guinea pigs

In Peru, they eat the Peruvian Guinea pig. It is also known as the Cuy Peruano. The Peruvian guinea pig is a very small species of pigs that are natively found in South America, specifically in the Andes, high-altitude where they inhabit high altitude grasslands and scrublands.

They are also popular for their great taste and are especially popular in the coastal regions of Peru. 

When cooked, it is typically prepared like many other typical guinea pig dishes by cutting them up into parts or serving it whole with its head still attached to the body.

They usually steam or boil the meat until tender, then season with garlic and cilantro before serving it alone or with rice.

The Peruvian guinea pig has unique long hair and is one of the oldest guinea pig breeds in Peru.

How Do They Eat Guinea Pig in Peru?

Those who eat guinea pigs in Peru usually grill them, deep fry, or cook them whole. Cuy is typically prepared with cumin, garlic, ají panca (a red pepper from Peru), and other spices.

It’s then flattened with a heavy object such as a brick to create delicious cracklings for the meat once it’s cooked.  In fact, when cuy is done correctly, there should be very little meat because most of it should have been rendered to the skin, which is crispy and very tasty.

In a Peruvian restaurant, cuy is typically served whole, either fried or boiled, with the head attached to the body. People who eat this dish believe that eating the entire animal is the only way to get the nutritional benefits of guinea pigs. 

Most people in Peru serve it with potatoes and choclo, which is large-kernelled corn that’s popular in Peruvian cuisine.

Many families in Peru also make a point to serve it at least once a week.  For instance, rich Peruvian dishes such as caudillo de congri (Peruvian-style bouillabaisse) or chupe de Camarones (shrimp chowder) wouldn’t be complete without guinea pigs.  It is a delicacy and is served at celebratory feasts, festivals, weddings, and birthdays.

Where Do They Eat Guinea Pigs in Peru?

A mountain in Peru

In Peru, guinea pigs are a popular food. The people in the Andes mountains, where much of the country’s population lives, eat them regularly. They also serve them at festivities and special occasions.

Cuy, or guinea pig, has been a dietary staple of the Andean region for centuries. There were even restaurants that catered specifically to those who wanted to eat these furry little creatures. 

After a while, the demand for “cuy” fell off, and it became something of a rarity on Peruvian restaurant menus. But recently, there has been a decrease in popularity, and you can find guinea pig dishes on many local menus throughout Peru today.

Final Thoughts

Eating guinea pigs is a common practice in Peru. Unlike other countries, Peruvians don’t keep guinea pigs as pets but as food. They either grill, fry or boil the meat.

People in Peru eat guinea pigs because it is delicious. They enjoy its flavor and also love it because guinea pigs eat organic plants. Finally, people love eating guinea pigs in Peru because it has always been part of their culture. 

We hope you enjoyed reading this blog post and learned something new about the food habits of Peruvians about guinea pigs.

If so, we’d love for you to share this with your friends on social media!


Share it with Your Friends!