Buenos dias Amigo’s and Amiga’s!
The Fat Cow has become semi cultured and has found herself venturing from the pastures of Perth all the way to Peru, South America.
Although many of you may not be able to enjoy the culinary delights with which I am going to share with you today, I am sure that many of you will not be too disappointed about that (please read on to see why).
I am one who wholly believes in the saying ‘when in Rome’, and while in a different country I think it only polite to taste local delicacies.
This motto often works out well in places like Italy or France, where local delicacies include culinary delights like olives, pizza or croissants. You can only imagine my horror and concern when announced that Peru’s favourite dish is Cuy, translation = Guinea Pig.
That’s right ladies and gentlemen that furry, cuddly and somewhat adorable pet that you owned as a wee person, actually gets served up on a plate over here. Traditionally it is usually served whole (head included) and one must devour in the carnivorous fashion of eating it with your hands.
With the mentality of the guy from Man v Food, I put to the back of my mind that I had to eat my childhood pet and ventured to a recommended Peruvian restaurant (Inka Grill) in Cuzco. Aiming to check off all the local dishes we ordered the entrée of Trout and Mushroom Ceviche and a main of Cuy (Guinea Pig) with roasted potatoes to share. Considered a delicacy over here, the Cuy was the most expensive item on the menu, and I had concerns that I would be playing 60 soles for one mouthful of food.
To calm the nerves prior to my pet tasting, I further got into the Peruvian spirit by ordering the local drink called a Pisco Sour. This was delicious and although initially tasting highly alcoholic I soon settled into it. The flavour resembled Tequila but was mixed with citrus and egg white which took away the typical burning that usually comes with Tequila. After trying many local drinks in different countries E.g. Raki in Turkey (liquorice in a cup) it was nice to actually find a drink which was palatable.
The dishes arrived at the table and I was happy to see that the guinea pig had been separated and there was no sign of a head. I was doubting my ability to eat such a thing if it was in fact looking at me. The ceviche was nicely presented and came with a side of corn, regularly sold and eaten here.
We started on the ceviche to get into the swing of things and although the city of Lima is best known for its ceviche, it seemed Cusco did it pretty well also. The citrus base flavoured the trout well, and was an enjoyable and light dish, of generous entree portion size to start off the evening.
Next was the Guinea Pig and with a deep breath I took my first bite. Despite being a little less meaty and slightly chewier, Guinea Pig tastes like CHICKEN.
All was going well and I was considering my second piece of Cuy until the piece I selected had some unappetising kidneys attached. Based on this disturbing turn of events, the fact it was expensive and tasted like chicken, I have decided to end my Cuy adventures in favour of returning to eating plain old chicken.
In other exciting culinary adventures I was also able to try Alpaca. For some reason this seemed a little less daunting than Guinea Pig perhaps because I never had one in the back yard. The Alpaca was also enjoyable, tasting slightly sweeter and lighter to Australian Beef.
I assure you even though I have eaten Guinea Pig and Alpaca, Peru still has animals left in existence, evident after our visit to the markets.
I always enjoy visiting different countries markets as it gives you an idea of what you should be trying and eating. All I can say however is that after visiting Cuzco markets I have now turned Vegetarian. Filled with countless isles of fresh fruit and juicing bays, we were off to a promising start but things soon changed after mindlessly walking into the meat section.
Call me a prude but I firmly believe that meat and fish when out in the open should be kept on ice and fly free. Strolling through the meat aisles, the Peruvian people obviously don’t share these sentiments and all cuts of meat were laid out in the sun for the taking. I soon realised how wasteful we were in Australia with cuts including brain, hooves, intestine, cow nose, tongue all being available for purchase at a good price. Although we do have kitchen facilities at the hostel, buying dinner seemed like the easier option then knocking up a quick brain and tongue stew.
It has been a gastronomic experience to say the least and I am glad to report that I have no food poisoning based on the above tastings. I look forward to the next part of the journey in Bolivia and have my fingers crossed that their local delicacy lies somewhere between chocolate cake and pie.
Love The Fat Cow x