peru Travel

Peruvian Dish: Cuy

The Peruvian dish Cuy served in a top Cusco restaurant Cuy, or guinea pig, is an Andean delicacy that is found in many Peruvian dishes. Cuy was one of the most important foods even before Inca times. In fact, domestication can be traced back as early as 5000 BCE in the Antiplano region of Southern Peru, where wild cuy populations can still be found. There are also historic cuy statues from the coastal plains and the Moche Region of the Northern Coast that date back to 200 BCE.

When the Spanish brought the cuy back to Europe, people were more inclined to have them as pets rather than food. Queen Elizabeth I made them officially fashionable when she took one as a pet.

In addition to being used at ancient feasting rituals, the cuy was also used in traditional Peruvian medicine. A live cuy would typically be rubbed over the sick patient, then split open to allow the internal organs to be read in order to reach a diagnosis.

Also known locally as jaca, wanku, conejo, peruano, curi, and acurito, guinea pig is as popular as ever. There is even a cuy festival every summer in San Marcos and Ancash where tasting contests are held to find the best guinea pig recipe.

The most traditional dish is Picante de Cuy, which is fried guinea pig with potatoes and spicy peanut sauce. Other variations are soup (Aguadita de Cuy), stuffed potatoes (Cuasa de Cuy), or the typical Escabeche de Cuy, which is served with onions, potatoes, and vinegar sauce.

Many people report that it tastes like chicken. You could just eat chicken, but while you're in Peru, it might be fun to try something new while giving you an opportunity to embrace a different culture.

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