Eating Cuy – The Night My Dinner Waved At Me
Two days after visiting Mitad del Mundo, I went to dinner with Hannah and Natsumi, friends from the language school. We were on a mission to try cuy, guinea pig. I knew I couldn’t leave the country without eating cuy, even if guinea pigs are a common pet in the States. The only reason I even took the picture of the live guinea pigs at Mitad del Mundo was that I wanted a “before” picture.
We decided to split the $22 cuy between the three of us. We also each ordered something else in case we didn’t like the cuy. Then we waited anxiously to see what it would look like when it came out from the kitchen.
At first I was a little disappointed they split the cuy into three pieces before serving it to us. However, my disappointment quickly slipped away once I got a good look at my plate.
We all stared at our dinner with a mix of excitement and horror. It’s one thing to expect your food to look like the animal it came from, but it’s entirely different to actually see it in front of you. I could see every little bone in its body. Its little foot waved at me while I tried to cut into the tough meat.
As we struggled with our rodent, Natsumi realized she had the head on her plate. Again this was something we all wanted to see, but the reality was a bit harsh. At first it looked pretty non-descript. Until she flipped it over. Suddenly we could see all its teeth, still attached, including those two really long ones in the front.
After being typical tourists taking pictures of our food, we continued to pull apart little bones and pick at the guinea pig meat. I probably only got three or four tiny bites before giving up and eating the empanada I ordered as a back-up. It was just too much work to get the smallest piece of tough meat.
By the way, yes it did taste like chicken.
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October 25, 2010 @ 12:12 AM
How often can you say your dinner waived at you… and smile at you, kinda.
Like eating crawfish, a lot of work for little meat. Did you get to pick your guinea pig?
October 25, 2010 @ 12:57 AM
Hilarious, Nick! No, didn’t get to pick our guinea pig. That somehow seems so much more creepy than say picking out your lobster from the tank.
October 24, 2010 @ 10:31 PM
HEHEHE… John is gaging beside me! You are a trooper 🙂
October 24, 2010 @ 11:28 PM
HA! Thanks, and sorry if I made John gag 🙂 That does make me laugh a little though!
October 25, 2010 @ 2:50 AM
Well. I’m sure that was a dining experience you won’t soon forget about! Haha.
A friend of mine studied abroad in Ecuador for a while, and the family he was staying with raised guinea pigs for the purpose of eating them. That’s so weird to think about!
And, by the way… LOVED the Monty Python reference in that last photo caption!
October 25, 2010 @ 7:13 AM
Definitely weird to think about. My best friend used to have a guinea pig as a pet so it was awkward to look at it on my plate. Soooo glad you got the Monty Python reference!!
Lisa E / Chicky Bus
October 25, 2010 @ 9:23 AM
What a great post….the way you wrote it is simply hilarious! I used to live in Ecuador and for some reason (hmmm) , I never got to try the cuy. I remember seeing them on the skewers, about to be BBQed or after they had been. They looked like “road kill on a stick,” I swear.
I love the “harsh reality” of seeing the teeth. Yikes. But good for you for being brave enough to order and…dig in!
You’re inspiring me, btw, to write about “Mistakes I Made in China.” One of them, of course, is related to food. 🙂
October 25, 2010 @ 7:10 PM
Thank you! I didn’t see any on skewers, not sure I could’ve handled that. I still have a hard time looking at the picture with the teeth. You should definitely do the post about China, looking forward to reading it!
October 25, 2010 @ 9:35 AM
OH MY GOSH. poor animal 🙁
But it an amazing experience 🙂
Thanks for sharing
October 25, 2010 @ 7:11 PM
It was a little weird, but I couldn’t NOT try it. And it didn’t taste bad. Thanks for reading, JR!
October 25, 2010 @ 10:12 AM
Oh my! I have no idea how you managed to eat that after seeing the furry little guys. I don’t think I could do it!
October 25, 2010 @ 7:15 PM
It did make it a little harder after seeing them a few days earlier, but I was committed. I went all the way there, I wasn’t going to leave without trying it. I’m just glad it didn’t taste bad!
October 25, 2010 @ 10:27 AM
Ok…I can handle seeing the feet but the teeth! Ugh! BTW, Andrew Zimmerman ate the same thing and I had to change the channel. You both are crazy! 😉
October 25, 2010 @ 7:16 PM
I know, even I have a hard time with the teeth picture, still creeps me out. I think I saw that episode, but he eats way crazier things than I’ll ever eat!
October 25, 2010 @ 12:31 PM
And the number of the counting shall be three..
I’ve heard the line from vegetarians about not eating things with faces, but this finally makes sense. 🙂
October 25, 2010 @ 7:18 PM
1…2…5…no I mean 3!
HA! Yeah, it was definitely harder to eat after seeing the teeth, and the little foot. Still makes me shudder.
October 25, 2010 @ 9:05 PM
Oh dang, that looks delicious.
October 25, 2010 @ 9:51 PM
Hmm I don’t know if “delicious” is the word I’d use, but it wasn’t bad!
October 25, 2010 @ 5:34 PM
OH NO GIRL, you are BRAVE!!! I dont know if i could have done that. I know when I am on the road Im gonna HAVE TOO try new food but ahh its going to be hard for me to do. I can’t believe you did it…
October 25, 2010 @ 7:20 PM
HA! Thanks Jaime! You can totally do it, and you’re right, you can’t travel to exotic places without trying the food. Although I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to eat bugs.
October 25, 2010 @ 8:33 PM
I used to be a really picky eater… and when I say picky, I mean picky. Travel changed that. I’m now to a point where I’ll try anything once, but I don’t know just how far I’ll take that when I end up in Asia. I did try cuy when I was in South America and it wans’t that bad. What was bad was watching my friend Alex next to me eating the brains and sucking the eye balls out of the skull. That’s nasty!
Kudos to you for trying something new!
October 25, 2010 @ 9:02 PM
Thanks! I know what you mean, I’m much less picky about what I eat when I travel, which is good. I might have to draw the line at bugs though. Your friend eating the brains and eyes….that is so incredibly disgusting!
October 25, 2010 @ 10:03 PM
I almost fell out of my chair laughing at the end. Glad you had fun with that one.
October 25, 2010 @ 10:12 PM
Thanks Jill! Always happy to make people laugh. Hope you’re doing good!
October 26, 2010 @ 7:18 AM
wow!!! i wouldnt have the guts to eat that… they’re too cute to be eaten hehe
October 26, 2010 @ 6:24 PM
It was a little hard to make myself eat it but when else would I try something like that? Thanks for reading!
October 27, 2010 @ 5:48 AM
Yikes – not for me, I’m a little girl when it comes to food. Well Done!
October 27, 2010 @ 6:55 AM
Thanks! I take it you’re not trying any bugs in Asia? (I don’t think I could do that!)
October 27, 2010 @ 4:15 PM
Hahaha! At least you know your meal was nice and fresh Ali!
October 27, 2010 @ 8:20 PM
Ha!! Thanks 🙂
October 28, 2010 @ 7:48 PM
Fun read but did you HAVE to include the picture of the guinea pigs. Permanently scarred.
October 28, 2010 @ 10:44 PM
Aw, I’m very sorry to have scarred you, please accept my apology! I was entertained by it, even though that foot still creeps me out. Thanks for stopping by!
November 9, 2010 @ 6:55 PM
Ew I can’t even look at the rest of your post! lol
jk love your writing style 🙂
November 9, 2010 @ 8:15 PM
Thank you! And yes I know those pictures are gross, they creep me out and I ate the thing!
Jill - Jack and Jill Travel The World
December 20, 2010 @ 5:52 PM
Don’t think I can do it. I volunteer at an animal shelter and piggies make the cutest noises. I’d be horrified if I ever find a GP head staring at me from a plate. I have too much empathy for my food sometimes 🙂 Errr, did you get to pick your own GP? As in — yeah, that fat one over there in the corner! ?
December 20, 2010 @ 7:55 PM
Yeah, I did have a hard time going for it, but I figured I couldn’t go to Ecuador without trying it. But no, I did NOT pick out my guinea pig first like you do with lobster. I don’t plan on eating cuy again, but glad I gave it a try the one time. Thanks for reading!
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August 1, 2012 @ 8:49 PM
[…] Eating Cuy- The Night My Dinner Waved At Me because of the shock value from the pictures of the guinea pig I ate while in Quito, Ecuador. […]