Peru: Cusco – Cuy

I felt a bit sad when we left Cusco. We had a flight to the Amazon next – which was of course, very exciting – but somehow because it was a flight, it felt more final than if we had left by bus.

Because we’d had a couple of quiet days in Cusco, I had gotten used to pottering around the town, walking the roads from our hotel to the main square, learning to cross the roads like a local (just going for it, basically), finding nice places for Alastair and I to eat, declining offers of massages and Machu Picchu trips from touts, and generally having a very relaxed time.

But there was one last thing I needed to do before we left Cusco: try cuy aka guinea pig. I wasn’t remotely hungry after our very filling lunch at Inkazuela, but it was my last opportunity. There would be no guinea pigging in the Amazon, and our last night in Peru (in Lima) was coming up and I already had a restaurant booked there.

Alastair wasn’t interested in eating cuy, so he opted for lomo saltado lopez style (31 soles) – slices of beef sirloin sauteed and seasoned with pisco, garlic, coriander, soy sauce, plus mushrooms, peppers, chives and beer and served with fries and white rice. Booooring. πŸ™‚ Though I did like the retro styling!

While I ordered the cuy – a bit expensive at 51 soles, but what can you do.

The menu description amused me: Guinea pig at Arequipa or Cusco style. This is a great Peruvian dish that must to be order in advance (recommended) because we always look for the best and this way we have the right time to prepare this delicious dish.

How do you find the best guinea pig for eating? I had visions of them chasing several around to find the best one to dispatch. Eeeeeek.

The cuy was cooked in a herby, savoury sauce and served with potato, spaghetti, plus a deep fried stuffed rocoto pepper.

The side components were all well and fine, and as for the cuy… well, the skin was rubbery and basically inedible.

The meat however… “tastes like chicken” is the usual description of any strange meat, but I can quite definitely tell you that cuy does not taste like chicken. Before I tried it I thought that it may have been similar to rabbit, but as cuy is fattier, it wasn’t like bunny either.

I thought it had the most similaries to duck – with a rich flavour, but not quite as gamey. As expected, since it’s a pretty small animal, there wasn’t a lot of meat on it.

This is a picture of a different guinea pig at a different restaurant. I didn’t eat this one – but you get an idea of a different kind of presentation that’s a bit more confronting. πŸ™‚

As for my cuy dish – I really enjoyed it. It’s no wonder Peruvians eat the little things… they are tasty.

(PS: If anyone ever visits Cusco and goes to this particular restaurant, you HAVE TO check out the bathroom. I’ll just say: It. Is. Insane. and leave it at that.)

Nuna Raymi
Calle Triunfo (Sunturwasi) 356 2do.
Piso Cusco