Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Señor Cuy In San Isidro: Yes, Peruvians Eat Guinea Pigs

For many visitors to Peru, there is something fascinating about the fact (some) Peruvians eat cuy.

In English, these are known as guinea pigs, those cuddly little animals favored by children as pets in much of North America and Europe.

Well, in Peru, people do eat guinea pigs (although, not all Peruvians will eat it; it is considered a dish of the Andean region, and those who live outside the Andes, or who don't have ties to the Andes, often balk at the thought of eating them).

Yes, they are rodents, of the cavia porcellus species.

But, they are also herbivores, which means that in Peru, where they are raised as a source of protein, they are fed grass and alfalfa.

In the Andes, guinea pigs have been raised as a food for the last seven thousand years. In fact, prior to the Conquest, cuy strains were much larger than we know them today; over time, their size diminished as cuy was displaced as a meat by the introduction of non-native animals such as beef, pork, and lamb.

As a child, I grew up with my grandparents in Andean Peru, and there, I ate a lot of cuy.

In fact, cuy was a delicacy, a meal to be prepared on special occasions or for special visitors.

My grandmother tended her cuyero, the building where our guinea pigs lived.

It was a small, windowless, adobe building in our large garden, and when we would open the door to feed the cuys, we would hear that onomatopoeia, the sound which made the Andean people call them cuy...a high, chirping, sound: cuy...cuy...cuy...

Yet, despite their history as an Andean food source, the eating of cuy still evokes mystery and trepidation for visitors to Peru.

I admit: part of it must be the presentation. Many places present cuy looking, well...very much a rodent.

But, the flavor of the meat and the many different ways it can be prepared warrant this a dish to be sampled in Peru.

This is not the first time cuy has been discussed on this Peruvian food blog.

Previously, I've posted about the excellent chicharrón de cuy, deep fried cuy, served at La Casa de Don Cucho.

I've also highlighted the typical tourist's perspective on cuy, such as what Braunwarth posted on his blog.

I've also posted about an article from The Economist that discussed the new super-cuy strains that were being developed. This last post included a link to recipes for cuy (albeit, in Spanish), which was also picked up by Liz Henry at BlogHer.

Last, but not least, I once even posted a photo of the lady with biggest cuy I'd ever seen!

But, finally, I can write about a restaurant (in posh San Isidro, no less!) that offers cuy in many different presentations, and that is trying to 'normalize' the consumption of this traditional (and, tasty) Andean food.

Señor Cuy is the brainchild of a family member of Juancho's over at Camina El Autor: Juancho's Travels in Peru.

I had already featured some of Juancho's pictures here at Peru Food, but this is an opportunity to showcase some of the traditional cuy dishes featured at Señor Cuy.

As you can see, it looks just like chicken!

So, when in Peru, don't be afraid to try cuy. And, if you head to a specialist, such as Señor Cuy, you can be assured a taste treat you won't easily forget.

Photos: Señor Cuy or Camina El Autor

Señor Cuy
Avenida Andrés Reyes 144, at the end of Paseo Parodi, block four of Javier Prado
San Isidro
Open: Tuesday to Sunday, 1:00 a 4:00 p.m
Website: Señor Cuy


Click here for the Peru Food main page.

TAGS: Peru, Peruvian, food, cooking, cuisine, cocina, comida, gastronomía, peruana


Juan Arellano said...

Habla Alejandro.. parrillada de Cuy?

Stuart said...

I've been wanting to visit this place and do a piece on my blog ever since Juancho wrote about it on his blog... just haven't had the time.

Oh... and you forgot to mention the low fat and low cholesterol benefits of eating such cuy.

Maberk said...

Hey Ale,
I just left you a little task in my blog. =)

Greeting from Argentina

Anonymous said...


I looking after breeders of this super cuy in Peru. Do you have any tips on any emails to breeders of this super cuy, if so please send me ine email:


Thank you for all your help.

Best Regards,
Mr Jan Lindstrom