Life and Death in Peru — The Plight of the Humble Guinea Pig

Posted by - April 15, 2011 | Category: Escapes, Peru, South America

I had some photos I wanted to share of guinea pigs (or “Cuy”) from my trip to Peru, and I figured I’d try something different this time around instead of the usual “Travel Photo of the Week”.

Warning: Contains images that may be disturbing for some, delicious for others…

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So I’d like to get your comments. Have you tried Cuy? Or any other odd delicacy? Operators are standing by…

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52 comments - add one
    1. Actually it depends of the cuy, most of them indeed do not have much meat, but there are some specially selected which have much more meat on them (and are priced quite high in the local market).

      For the taste it’s actually quite similar to a rabbit, quite tasty.

      1. I have to agree with the rabbit bit — our family used to have it heaps when I was a kid. As for the cuy, there were a few porkers around the campfire for sure…

    1. After seeing them alive and so close to the grill I just couldn’t do it. Like if I was in a restaurant and saw chickens walking around, I’d probably order the fish…

  1. Hey Raymond I got the chance to eat cuy in Peru-taste like chicken- but didn’t really feel too guilty about it until I saw that cute photo and slideshow 🙁

  2. I already follow I want to follow the group on facebook People who don’t eat guinea pig. Those are such cute little creatures, I hate to see them become someone’s dinner.

    1. Thanks Lisa — there is a much bigger Guinea Pig group out there on Facebook, but I thought these guys needed a plug.

      Plus their name fit on the PowerPoint a lot easier than “Guinea pigs are pets, not food! Stop people from eating guinea pigs”..

  3. Have I tried Cuy? Nope, but I probably would if I got the chance. Agreed, your sweet little slide show gives one pause, but it’s really no different than eating pigeon in Egypt, goat brains in Morocco, silk worms in Thailand, mopani worms in South Africa (all of which I’ve done), or for that matter – yes, rabbit, or lamb or…

    Hey, what about SHRIMP?

    Granted, not furry like those cutesy Cuy, but have you never seen shrimp frolicking in the surf, playing a merry game of tag? And what about that dear little curl and those darlin’ bitsy legs when you cook them? And PINK! How can even DREAM OF EATING something so little and pink???

    I mean – what I want to know is – how come there’s no facebook page for “People Against Eating Half-Pint Crustaceans”, huh???


    1. Dyanne I must say your query got me intrigued.

      Just why are there no groups against the eating of the wee defenseless shrimp? No Prawn Peta? No NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Crustaceans who are Pink)?

      The closest I could find was this Facebook page — “I don’t eat prawns not because I hate them but too lazy to peel”, but that’s hardly an action league. So there must be a bigger reason why no one is sticking up for the shrimp Dyanne. Bigger than the both of us. And that reason…is the Bible.

      Thee’s a healthy discussion going on over at, and the question that’s caused all the fuss? Well it’s a two-parter, and it’s a doozy — Is homosexuality an abomination? Is eating shrimp an abomination? So apparently you see, shrimp need no defense. As per Leviticus, they’ve got the homophobes in their court. And those are some big numbers. 😉

      1. Well there ya go, Raymond – yep, quite the doozy of a discussion going on over there, indeed

        Which now begs the question – uh, do we also need a facebook page for “People Against Eating GAY Half-Pint Crustaceans”?

        And furthermore – there’s still that little matter of their being “pink”, yes? I mean, is there not something in the Constitution (the Bible?) about not discriminating against “shrimp-of-color”?

        Seriously. Curious minds wanna know… 😉

        1. Ha ha! Shrimp of color — love it!

          For some reason, this reminds me of that episode of the Simpsons: “Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays”. For which of course, there is a Facebook group…Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays

  4. Awww, I had pet guinea pigs when I was a child! They’re so adorable… But… Having said that, I think I’d have a little nibble to see how they taste!

    1. I never had guinea pigs as a kid, so never had that attachment. But if there were offering up some samples at Costco, i might give it a go…just to say I tried it… 🙂

  5. Okay to be fair, the guinea pig they eat are not like that cute photo for the lead.

    I’ve eaten it in Ecuador and Peru, it’s much better in Ecuador where it’s over an open fire rather than deep fried.

    1. Yeah probably not a good idea. I was vegetarian for a year, then fell off the wagon with some late night chicken wings. Now I’m eating anything with (and without) a pulse… 🙂

  6. I’ve heard many people comment about the taste of guinea pig. I would definitely try but not sure that I can watch the videos.

  7. I have a difficult time eating meat when I think about what form it took before it was on my plate. Usually I can get by if I don’t think about it, but something cute and furry like a guinea pig would be hard to stomach!

  8. These are gorgeous, I don’t think I could ever tried them, although I eat meat, so I think it’s pretty much the same, still coming from an animal… Here in China they literally eat everything, I was shocked when I saw turtle soup, my grandma had a turtle when I was a child, it was really horrible to see them in a plate..

    1. My roommates and I had a couple of turtles years ago for a VERY short while. They stank and they were way too much work. We ended up smuggling them INTO a pet store. Plopped ’em into a pool with a bunch of others. (I think it’s called reverse-shoplifting??)

      I can’t imagine eating them though.

    1. Ha ha! I figured YOU would eat cuy for sure! I’ve seen a few of your street food videos on your site — guinea pig is probably pretty tame by comparison… 🙂

  9. We tried guinea pig in Puno, Peru. Not my fav, it was too greasy and had a foul aftertaste. Although I think the joint we ate at was pretty suspect. I was violently ill for 48 hours after, so I’m guessing it could have been in the preparation? Probably going to be a one time thing 😉

  10. omg you are off your chain! LOL! i am a carnivore by denial (total a-hole thing to admit, i know) and have a hard time even eating meat with bones, so i’d have a hard time getting past this i think…but then i have eaten crickets. dunno- i go back and forth between wanting to eat adventurously and try everything once, and not wanting to consume the misery of the animals we decide to classify as food instead of pets (so arbitrary & culture bound, right?!). very thought-provoking post wrapped in an extremely cute package 🙂

    1. Thanks Lorna! It’s PowerPoint Performance Art! 🙂 Hardly…but I am glad you enjoyed it!

      I am the same way when it comes to meat. I just watched that Woody Harrelson doc “Go Further” about organic living and swore I would go veggie again. Shallowly because it told me I would have better skin. Then I passed a KFC and that dream came crashing down. Oily t-zone it is. 🙂

  11. hahaha your captions on the photos make it worse!!
    “this little piggy went to market and never ever came home…” hahahaha nice 🙂
    But did you taste it? Where are the photos of you eating it? 🙂

    1. Alas, I declined to eat the poor little fella. My traveling partner was a recovering vegetarian just coming off of a sausage binge. It would have gotten ugly if I didn’t lead by example… 🙂

    1. Me too — I have no problems with trying something “exotic”, but have a hard time biting down on something that could have potentially been some kid’s pet.

      Thanks for stopping by Nancie!

  12. I’ve eaten a few weird things in Peru, including cuy and roasted ants. I live in the jungle, and the one thing I will never, ever eat (well, maybe one day) is the big, fat, wriggling grub that lives in rotting tree trunks. One of my neighbours offered me one a few months ago. I politely declined…

    1. Hmmm, Peru should market the Cuy along with a side of wriggly grubs — sort of a Peruvian version of the combo meal. “Can I super-slime that for you?”

      Thanks for coming by Tony!


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