I’ve already told you: I always want to taste new things, even if I suspect I’m not going to like it, even if the smell or look is discouraging – my curiosity is much bigger than my common sense.

Sometimes I wonder what is going to be the dish that I refuse to try, that will be so disgusting that I won’t take a bite and swallow just a bit?
I don’t know where this curiosity comes from – when I reach back to my childhood I remember my parents complaining of me being a picky child and I even remember a day in a restaurant when I cried for an hour over a pork chop that I didn’t want to touch. Now I’m not sure if I was a fussy eater or if my parents set the standards too high, however, for the years to come, when I stopped eating my mum’s homemade dishes many times I wondered of how fussy OTHER people were, how unwilling they were to experience new flavours.

Anyway, food experience is an important part of my travelling and I always try to taste something, experience the unknown. I splurge on delicacies and waste money when I don’t like something and push my plate away.

Cuy is a guinea pig, a traditional dish of Andean cuisine in Ecuador and Peru. I was going to try it in Ecuador, but to my big regret they closed the doors of the eatery before we got there. Going to Peru last year I was sure I was going to try it.

When i was wandering among numerous souvenir stalls in the small village of Pisac I suddenly entered a big, pleasant backyard. I was about to leave, but then I notice word ‘cuy’ written on the wall. It was a very short moment of hesitation and the owner noticed me, he approached and pointed at the oven, and then they other guy pulled a big tray of guinea pigs stuffed with herbs.

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“I just wanna try,” I whispered, staring at the stuffed animals.
“Why don’t you take just a half of it?” – suggested the owner, giving my encouragement with his smile.
“Now or never!” I thought and ordered it.

I was sitting in the armchair for quite a while when the man put a plate in front of me, “Eating with your hands is the best way,” he explained. “The skin is the best”, he added and left me.
I put away the knife and for, and shyly touched the cuy.

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Chips were good, salad was alright, the cuy was actually delicious – the taste was a mix of duck and chicken. The only problem was that there wasn’t much meat and eating cuy was a hard work for me, just like eating chicken drumsticks, when you need to suck the meat from between the bones, turn it over, look for one more bite. I hardly ever eat chicken drumsticks – too much of en effort for me so you can imagine how I felt.

“Are you eating a cuy?  asked the man who’d sat down next to me a moment before and was staring at my plate with his eyes wide open.
“Would you like to try?” I offered, pointing at the meat with my greasy finger.
An American hesitated for a moment and they extended his hand towards my plate.
“You know, it’s quite good,” he murmured after a moment chewing the second bite, “I didn’t expect that”.

Well, if you’re still reading and you’re not to disgusted at my decision to eat a guinea pig, I’ll tell you about what I drank.
It was also the first time I tried chicha morada – a Peruvian beverage made of purple corn, a drink that resembles a mix of mulled cider and popcorn.
When the drink is poured into a glass, the froth mixes with liquid giving the drink bright pink colouring, then slowly the drink turns darker.

A delicious and interesting experience that was – I do recommend – try when you get the chance.

And then, as I was leaving the restaurant, a saw a cage in the corner with guinea pigs in it.

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  • I do love taking at least a bite of new dishes when I’m traveling. Once in Cusco I tried a bite of Cuy but wouldn’t be able to eat a whole one. I’m with you in not loving to work too hard to get meat off the bone! Poor guinea pigs but our species needs protein and guinea pigs are easier to raise than cattle (environmentally too, I imagine.)

  • omg, I think I would be down for the drink but I’m not sure about the guinea pig. Not that I don’t like to try new things but it’s just – it’s a fluffy guinea pig. Maybe one day!

  • Wow…. great shots complementing your write up very well. Thanks for sharing.

  • Actually, I would. If we can eat goat on Mallorca, we can eat cuy in Peru. I agree, having to work so hard at it wouldn’t be that great, though.

    • You’re right!
      I’ve eaten goat meat a few times and never thought there’s something wrong with that – everything’s in our minds!

  • My curiosity is bigger than my common sense.. that describes me to a T! LOL No thanks on the guinea pig! I’d pry just gag it up anyhow. :o

  • mar

    mmmmm…well not sure I would try, after seeing the cute little animal…but then again, we eat rabbit in spain, regularly, it is like chicken, so I think it is all about perspective

  • I’ve tried cuy a couple of times, and whilst I am an ‘eat anything’ kind of person, it didn’t really taste too great. never tried the purple drink though… will have to give it a go next time!

  • I always like trying new things when travelling abroad and during my time here in China i’ve been able to try a few weird things but not sure if I would eat Guinea Pigs especially if they’re in the cage in the store!

  • I’m so glad to hear that you’re open to new experiences – I would dfeinitely give it a go, even if I am a little adverse to eating a childhood pet!!! But when it omes down to it it’s all about immersing yourself in someone elses culture and stepping outside your comfort zone to try something new. And you never truly experience life unless you’re open to new adventures. So I would definitely be all in :D

  • Given the opportunity I would eat cuy too. Trying out regional dishes is a huge part of travel! I actually had no idea that people eat guinea pigs anywhere in the world, so thanks for sharing!

  • I love to try new dishes. I think if I’d have seen the live guinea pig before eating, I couldn’t have tried it, but I’d like to think I’d give it a go otherwise. Great post!