Looks Like Chicken, TASTES LIKE GUINEA PIG

Jenna Eating Guinea Pig at La MirageLa Mirage floral screenI’VE BECOME SOMEWHAT OBSESSED WITH FINDING GUINEA PIG aka cuy (sounds like coo-ee) since I arrived in Quito last week to see Jenna Meister and collaborate with Jet Set Zero. I soon learned, however, that cuy is a regional Ecuadorian food that, contrary to popular belief, is not native to Quito. To find traditional cuy sold by street vendors, I’ll need to venture two hours north of Quito to a town called Ibarra. There, I’m told skewered guinea pigs are roasted over fire pits (with head, teeth, claws, feet…) in the street.

Knowing that, Jenna and I were surprised to find cuy on the menu at the restaurant of luxury Relais & Chateaux hotel La Mirage when we stopped in on Monday. The hotel owner recommended the dish, reassuring us that the delicacy is specially prepared to suit “their type of clientele”, which basically means that all rodent-like features are removed toCrispy Cuy at La Mirage photo by Amy Cao accommodate squeamish eaters.

We ordered one guinea pig to share and gaped as the plate of fried thighs and rib arrived topped with paper wrappers, like frilly hats, to protect fingers from greasy ends where guinea pig feet used to be. The owner compared the taste of guinea pig to chicken, but I think a better comparison would be really lean duck with salty fried skin and sinewy, dark meat.

For $20 – roughly equivalent to twelve set lunches at an average Quito cafe – I sampled an upmarket version of a downscale dish. I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my first, overly salty guinea pig eating experience though. Some might consider the cuy mission accomplished, but when the catch is handed over on a plate with the scary bits removed, it just doesn’t feel like a goal achieved.

Thus, one overpriced guinea pig-in-disguise down; one whole roasted beast yet to go. amy june 24, 2010

MORE FROM ECUADOR
Devouring Quito With Jet Set Zero
To Mercado, To Mercado In Santa Clara, Quito
VIDEO Stupidly Simple Snacks • Guacamole!

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June 24, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . South America, Travel.

2 Comments

  1. maria replied:

    Uhm.. I can almost feel the taste! .. Good!

  2. Sajjad Gromer replied:

    If you ever make your way to Peru make sure you make a reservation for dinner at the MAP cafe. Aside from the stunning decor, the Cuy there was one of the best things I had during my stay in Peru.

    http://www.frommers.com/destinations/cusco/D54338.html

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