But the dining experience that requires trying to pull off a small morsel of meat from the carcass of a bony rodent that stared up at me with a toothy glare wasn't quite what I was after as my two-week adventure through Peru came to an end.
Last month, I journeyed to Peru as part of the Kansas Agriculture and Rural Leadership Class XI. Guinea pig was one of the many eye-opening experiences.
In America, we call these cuddly creatures pets. In Peru, especially in the rural areas, guinea pig is a vital source of protein - especially in poorer, rural communities.
"Even the poorest family can afford to raise guinea pigs," Gloria Palacios, director of a small-livestock farm at La Molina National Agrarian University in Lima, told The Christian Science Monitor in 2006.
After all, guinea pig, or cuy, as the Peruvians call it, is a delicacy. They usually are cooked whole, the heads, feet and tail left on, then served to the diner. And, they aren't cheap, either. For roughly $64 sols, or about $30 American dollars, you can try guinea on your next Peruvian excursions.
However, according to this recent NPR story, the country wants to import more guinea pig into the U.S. food system. According to one U.S. newspaper, Peruvians eat more than 65 million guinea pig a year.
I'm a meat and potatoes person myself, but when in Peru, I figured I better act somewhat cultured. I also didn't want to disappoint my children, who were fascinated and somewhat repulsed by the idea. So, on one of our last nights in the country, five of us decided to order one guinea pig and split it.
My couple bites were a couple of bites too many. But, then again, I could see a new Kansas State Fair food for the 100th anniversary in September. Deep-fried guinea pig, anyone?
|Guinea pig, anyone?|
|It seems happy, with that toothy grin ...|