I had heard a lot about the 'eat guinea pigs' culture here. A lot of people are skeptical about it. Honestly, I am not even a bit. We tried a delicious fried guinea pigs or Cuy in one of the picanteria in Arequipa and sure love to share that yummy experience in Peru!
Let's eat guinea pigs in Peru!
Why eat guinea pigs in Peru?
Guinea pigs are native to South America and they are a traditional food. It's called cuy in Peru. It has been served whole on special occasions since Inca times. Also, makes so much sense since they breed so quickly just like the rabbits do.
Plus! Guinea pigs have high-quality meat, similar to chicken, with high protein. The fat is also high in healthy poly-unsaturated fatty acids.
Also, it's not that the guinea pigs are serve everywhere, is it? I think that's the biggest reason we were dying to try while traveling in Peru.
Where to eat guinea pigs in Peru?
Nowadays they still serve guinea pigs in restaurants, sell roasted guinea pigs on the sides of the street (some towns like, Lamay and Tipón in Cusco) but not really in a small local restaurants that serve reasonable priced menu of the day (Huarique) as guinea pigs don't seem to be sold for cheap. S/ 30-60 depends how touristic and fancy of the place you're at.
Places that specialize in cooking and serving Guinea pig or Cuy called 'Cuyeria'.
Also, Picanterías doesn't sound so familiar, does it?
A picantería, is a traditional lunchtime restaurant in Peru, predominantly in and around the cities of Arequipa and Cuzco. Typical offerings of Arequipa cuisine include chicha de Jora corn beer and soups. Picanteria refers to a place serving Picante ("spicy"), a one-plate dish of various stews.
We ate Guinea Pigs at Victoria - Picantería democrática, Arequipa
We tried our first ever and surprisingly it was the last time we eat this small little Guinea pig while in Peru. We were intending to go for some more but always fell for alpaca every time...
We ate Guinea pig at Victoria - Picantería democrática where our guide from the Free walking tour recommended. Where would be better place to eat Peruvian food than a place that the local Peruvian recommends?
Picanterías' decoration and gimmicks
Everything inside the Victoria - Picantería democrática, Arequipa. Well, to be honest, it doesn't have to be this Picantería. All picanterías we have seen so far look so colorful and unique. It's not like any other Peruvian restaurant we had been to.
The waiters both male and female wear such cute uniform. The tradition clothing I suppose. Every picantería has its own unique style so you sure won't get bored. Some picanterîa like, La Nueva Palomino, even do a dance to welcome you into the restaurant so, so far so good and we love it so much with the whole Arequipano Picantería experience.
Peruvian Cuisine ingredients
Peruvians are always proud of their food and their nation in general. They love how they're home of the potatoes. They love how natural or organic ingredients they use. They love how delicious and various their Peruvian food could be.
In most of the picanterías we have been to and have passed by, they're proud to show the ingredients they use in their cuisine. Corn, of course, potatoes and other spices. Beautiful set-up with all the colorful fruits and vegetables. A few dishes also seem to be cooked over the natural charcoal stove. Too bad they don't show the alive guinea pigs / cuy before being cooked #joke! That would be horrible and sand to see :3
Anyways, it's cool that we can actually see what do they actually use / what we're actually eating and how it's prepared.
Chicha de Jora - Peruvian Corn Beer (S/ 15)
Before diving into a delicious fried whole guinea pig, the corn beer was served. The corn beer or what they call 'Chicha de Jora' was an epic low percentage alcoholic drink I fell in love with. Yes, just like I did with Chicha Morada.
Well, there's just a slightly difference between these two. Both are made of purple corn. One mixed with a few juices and cinnamon, a very refreshing sweet-sour drink we call 'Chicha Morada'. Another one some sugar and water, ferment it for a few weeks and there we go 'Chicha de Jora' or Peruvian corn beer. Both taste super duper good.
The Chicha de Jora is tastes like carbonated juice drink. A cider? Something like that. It doesn't taste so strong but after half a glass, I was quite fucked up #oops.
At Victoria - Picantería democrática, their Chicha de Jora is served with Pisco Sour.
What??? New word for the post. Well, another famous Peruvian Pisco that I'm sure you might have heard of already if you're / you have or you will travel to Peru. Distilling fermented grape juice into a high-proof spirit. It's strong! That whole shot first before going on with the Chicha de Jora. Now the Chicha de Jora are truly sweet and smooth to drink!
A few sips in and you already got some appertise.. Is that the secret? Is that why the guinea pig we had there at Victoria - Picantería democrática was delicious.. Well,...
Fried Guinea pig or Cuy at Victoria - Picantería democrática (S/ 55)
The whole guinea pig served with corn kernels, native potatoes, salad, and wheat pudding.
The moment of truth, first ever guinea pig we have eaten. The whole thing laying with all the leg spread out on a plate, the small little teeth you can actually count how many of them. The eyes, the brain, all that and I didn't feel too weird. Maybe I'm just a whatever-meat-feed-me person.
How does guinea pig taste like?
Well, I think the texture reminds me of a very tender dark meat of chicken. It's a bit chewy but at the same time, it's tender. I'm not sure what about you, but I'm a dark-meat person. I love the fact that I can actually enjoy chewing all the muscles. Kev said it tastes a bit like chicken mixed with rabbit. I have never really tried rabbit so, no sé.
It's quite greasy though not sure because of the excess oil from deep fried or because of the fat of the guinea pig itself. After a while, I felt like I couldn't handle it no more. Glad it's 2 of us so we finished the whole thing.
Our experience of eating guinea pig for the first time, trying the unique traditional Chicha de Jora or corn beer for the very first time at Victoria - Picantería democrática, Arequipa, Peru was lovely. Not just the decoration, the art, the food but also a great friendly service so, love it!
If you're in Arequipa, don't forget to hit some of the picanterías up. It's a thing here. Good thing! Delicious good and great Peruvian experience. Another one we went to, La Nueva Palomino is fun and affordable. Be warned, super duper busy and their food sold out before the place close, sometimes.
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Victoria - Picantería democrática
Address: Calle San Francisco 227, Arequipa 04001, Peru
3 min walk from Santa Catalina Monastery
Phone: +51 966 714 119
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