During one’s travels to strange and exotic lands, the experience is not complete without experiencing the local food and delicacies. For those of you here in the Philippines who have been tasked to take out foreign guests, I am almost sure that everyone is tempted to deviate from typical fare of Lechon and Sisig and try to offer them a taste of Balut or Dinuguan and see their reaction.
My classmate Mario suggested to me over Facebook that while in Cuzco I look look for and taste a classic Peruvian delicacy… GUINEA PIG. My quick response was “NO.” I used to have guinea pigs as pets when I was younger and the idea didn’t sit well with me.
But later on, the traveller in me prevailed to get over my squeamishness and give it a try, During the tour of Cuzco, our tour guide Jose did make mention about Peruvian delicacies served during special occasion. To them, guinea pig would have been like our own lechon.
During my last night in Cuzco, I went around to the town square to look for a place to eat. I walked into a local restaurant, the El Meson de Don Tomas.
I didn’t seek out to order guinea pig,. I was craving foo some form of stew. But when I opened the menu… there it was… Cuy al Horno… Baked Guinea Pig. With my mind doing a quick “what the heck?” that is what I ordered from the waiter.
For appetizers, they served me this interesting little drink… “Pisco sour” It was a mild alcoholic beverage with a tangy taste. They also gave me some sort of roasted corn kernels… it was like their form of “isang platitong mani”
To drink I was really curious about a soft drink I had been seeing all over. I decided to give it a try. I ordered Inca Cola. It was actually good. It kinda tasted like Mountain Dew. What made it Incan? It has Coco in it.
For a soup, I ordered “Sopa Criolla” or Creole Soup… it was actually quite good, though I wasn’t too pleased with the spaghetti in the middle.
And then the moment of truth… my guinea pig came out. As part of their tradition, first they bring it out whole. The waiter told me they do this so 1) we can see how it looks like and 2) so we can take pictures.
After taking pictures of the guinea pig in all its glory, they took away the dish back to the kitchen to chop it up. When it came back it looked “less like guinea pig.” It looked more like 4 chicken leg quarters. They removed the head and the tail.
So how did it taste like?
It smelt like Fried Chicken. Kinda like Max’s Friend Chicken. And as the expression goes… it tasted like chicken. the meat texture of course was different. It felt like pork. As a delicacy, it was quite good. I particularly liked the potatoes that were served with it.
As I was eating, I couldn’t help remembering what I was eating. So my mind started sending signals to my stomach. I ate around 1 and a half pieces before I stopped.
I was definitely an interesting dish. And at the very least, I could add this to the list of things I can claim “been there, done that.” But will I ever order this again? Who knows? But for now… probably not.