In the U.S., guinea pigs stand alongside hamsters, cats and dogs as beloved family pets, but that is not the case in Cusco. Rather than snuggling these furry rodents, Cusco natives see them as a tasty treat, and you will likely see Cuy, the Quechuan word for guinea pig, listed on the menus of many local restaurants. Native to Peru, these rodents reproduce and grow quickly, making them a cheap food source. Luckily, they are rather tasty as well.
"It is well known that Peruvians eat guinea pig. Foreigners are more reluctant to eat it as they see the animal as a pet," Gloria Palacios, the director of La Molina National University's project to promote guinea pig exports. "I think if they become familiar with the cuisine, maybe suddenly they'll give in and be tempted to try it. It really is delicious."
Typically, Cusco restaurants serve roasted guinea pig, and some locations even allow guests to choose their pigs. This dish may only be for the adventurous travelers, but those brazen enough to try this local cuisine on a Cusco tour will definitely have a good story to tell, whether they enjoy the meal or not.
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