The Spud Diaries – Entry 19 – A Cooee for Cuy

The Spud Diaries – Entry 19 – A Cooee for Cuy


Opinion
READY: Roasted guinea pig (cuy) is a speciality on Peruvian menus. It is brought out for a photograph first before being taken away to be carved up and served.

READY: Roasted guinea pig (cuy) is a speciality on Peruvian menus. It is brought out for a photograph first before being taken away to be carved up and served.

Aa

Fire up the stone oven and get you're picking fingers ready; it's time to eat a guinea pig.

Aa

ALPACA steak was one thing but it's time for something truly Peruvian for tea.

My new besties, Holly and Samuel, guide me up a long flight of stairs and narrow streets for a view over Cusco.

It's pretty amazing to see the density of housing intermingled with historical buildings.

On the way up though, we have to make a stop at the restaurant we intend to dine at tonight.

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Why? I have to put a down payment on the roast guinea pig. No, really, I do.

The guinea pig, or cuy (pronounced "kwee"), takes an hour to cook, so you book a table, pay half before they remove the fur and fire up the oven, then pay the remainder upon meal completion.

DIG IN: Anticipating the deliciousness of a long-roasted cuy.

DIG IN: Anticipating the deliciousness of a long-roasted cuy.

It's curious to think a domestic pet in one country could be a common dish in another.

The restaurant is hip to the fact that those ordering it must either:

  1. Like the "event" of having a roasted cuy;
  2. Tourists like to order it to say they've tasted it;
  3. Potato bloggers like to order it to say they've tasted it.

When it's meal time, a staff member brings out the roasted cuy, presented on a bed of leaves and roasted peppers (capsicums) especially for a photo opportunity.

After all the snaps are taken, it's whisked away to be cut up and served… with potatoes, of course.

Within the restaurant's alfresco courtyard dining area, the large stone, wood-fired oven helps heat up the entire area which is important on 3°C nights.

The Spud Diaries - Video 12 - Cusco From Above

This nicely roasted cuy tastes a bit like smoky lamb. It's rich in flavour, if a bit fiddley to eat. (It's not like they can take a steak off the side).

Overall, it's a warmly satisfying experience and one to file away as a story to tell back home.

I've been trying to include a few extra phrases in my broken Spanish.

I toss out a hearty " buenas tardes" (good afternoon) here and there but something occurs to me.

There's a good chance I'm not pronouncing the second half of that phrase ("tardes") correctly, so it sounds a bit like "Tardis", as in the transportation unit from Dr Who.

So it's very likely people have been interpreting me as saying: "Good time-travelling phone booth" which is why I'm receiving some confused looks.  

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  • Ashley Walmsley travelled to Peru with assistance from the Crawford Fund and with financial support from DFAT Council on Australia Latin America Relations.​ 
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