In Ecuador, cattle was only introduced to the local diet in the 1500’s after the arrival of Spanish colonists. Before then, the fuzzy, indigenous, guinea pig was a major source of sustenance, as well as a common element of local shamanic rituals.
In Spanish, guinea pigs are known as cuy. And they’re still as culturally important as ever. Litters of cuy are raised in the home, sometimes roaming freely underfoot. They reproduce quickly. The more cuy you own, the higher social status you have.
At 8 months old, the cuy can be eaten. Cuy is commonly prepared and served whole, either grilled, spit roasted, or even deep fried.
As for the taste, some describe it as a cross between pork and rabbit. The meat’s popularity among tourists has led to an increase in cuy street vendors.
If you don’t want to eat it straight, guinea pig is also a pizza topping!