To eat a guinea pig

Not sure quite when I got in my head that I wanted to eat a guinea pig. Cuy Guinea pig is supposedly a traditional food in certain regions of South America. One of those traditional foods that you think must be so common until you realise 1) how hard it is to find a restaurant that actually serves it and 2) how hard-pressed you are to find a local who has tried it. But deter me not! As soon as I knew I was going to be in Ecuador, I started my hunt for the restaurant where I would try my first cuy. One soon finds that this is not as easy as it seems. Not only were there not so many Ecuadorian restaurants, but there were few that actually served cuy. I finally settled on a restaurant called Achiote, in the Mariscal district, booked a table for New Year’s Eve and reserved my half cuy in advance, just to make absolutely certain it would be ready for me. Menu The menu was extensive with many unusual and delicious sounding goodies. We ordered a selection of fairly unadventurous starters to keep our tummies satisfied, just in case. Something called patacones – plaintain fritters with cream cheese on top. Patacones Chicken empanadas. Empanadas White fish ceviche with passion fruit sauce with a side of chocolate rice. Still not sure if that combo works – the same thing I thought at the time, with each and every bite – but I enjoyed eating it nonetheless. Ceviche And then the pièce de résistance. A flattened, half grilled guinea pig, splayed and frozen in time – head, legs and all. Cuy I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it reminded me most of dark meat from a duck, with a crispy skin that tasted like deep-fried pork crackling or chicharrónes. This was a fatty little critter – the skin was fatty, the meat unctuous and well-lubricated. This isn’t a civilised fork and knife kind of affair, so sleeves rolled up, fingers stuck in, trying to dig out some edible bits.  There wasn’t actually a lot of meat on the poor bugger’s body. Had there been, I may have enjoyed it more. Eating cuy So overall experience? The restaurant itself was great. Fairly small, nice vibe. Would have loved to have sampled more from their extensive menu. (Next time.) As for the guinea pig? Well, had to be done at least once. I rang in the New Year with my cuy, then got the rid of the guinea pig taste with a fig and yogurt flan. Yogurt flan Achiote Ecuador Cuisine Juan Rodríguez 282 y Reina Victoria ”La Mariscal” Entre Plaza Foch & Plaza Gabriela Mistral Quito, Ecuador Tel: +593 2 250 1743 Adventure Rating 5

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