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.
“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.
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.