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.

eating cuy in Quito, Ecuador
Cute fluffy guinea pigs

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.

eating cuy in Quito, Ecuador
My third of the cuy
eating cuy in Quito, Ecuador
In case anyone needed a close-up of its foot

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.

eating cuy in Quito, Ecuador
“Big sharp pointy teeth! Look at the bones!”

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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