Roasted Guinea Pigs

Roasted Guinea Pig – Photo by Phillie Casablanca

You have likely heard of at least one person with a guinea pig for a pet.  But did you know that in Peru guinea pigs are considered to be a delicacy?  Yes, Peruvian people eat guinea pigs.  Especially in the Andean region of Peru, these small furry creatures are roasted before they are served.  The dish is known by the name cuy chactado.

Guinea pigs that are destined to be cooked are grown much larger than those that are kept as pets.  Sometimes they are the main course, but more often they are an appetizer or a snack.  They are also included in the pachamanca, which is a meat banquet that involves many different types of meats like pork and beef along with various vegetables and herbs.  The mixture is prepared in an underground oven on top of hot stones.

Cavia prcellus has been an important part of Andean cuisine, culture and medicine for more than 40 centuries.  To this day, guinea pigs continue to be a vital source of protein for many in the region.