I am a proud

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cuy, an Andean delicacy

My wife was visiting North Carolina and was invited to speak to our granddaughter's 4th grade class about life and work in Ecuador among the Quichua people. All that was fun but on the way home our grandson made clear that she couldn't come to his class to speak. She thought that the children had really enjoyed the information and the activities she provided so she was surprised by his comment. Then he told her that they had a pet guinea pig in their class and that if she came to speak to his class he was sure she would eat the pet guinea pig. Not to worry, she didn't and she doesn't like "cuy", the Spanish name for guinea pig. Yet this is one of the delicacies of Ecuador and other Andean countries. We have Quichua friends even in the city who raise cuy on their roof tops and in closets within their homes. Cuy is a favorite dish and pretty easy to raise. This animal reproduces about as quickly as rabbits do. In one of the communities where we have worked a friend of ours has developed what we call "Cuy Hotels". He takes a 55 gallon drum and cuts it lengthwise. With screen wire he covers the open half as well as cutting out a portion of the remaining barrel and screening it in. Then he places as many as eight cuy inside, sets the screened side on the ground and instantly has protection for the cuy (from dogs mainly), containment for them and they have food. Every day he moves the cage over to more new grass and doesn't have to forage for food for the cuy daily. At the same time he is fertilizing the ground. If you visit an Quichua home you are likely to be offered cuy for a meal if you are a special guest or if it is a special occasion. What does it taste like? Well.... I think it is like greasy chicken myself. There just isn't much meat to be found on this little animals. In many parts of Ecuador you can order cuy in restaurants. It is a little more expensive than other dishes. In many parts of the country you can see open grills on the street where cuy are prepared and served. Remember, it is a specialty here and if you are offered it in a home, best dig in. Don't offend your host. I might add that it taste good so enjoy! In honor of the famous cuy of Ecuador I've place a cache by the same name. Be sure to come looking for it. Yes, they even make little cuy from gourds that they paint up. Cuy (GC2MHJY)
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