Ok, so I have to put a warning out there for any of you who are squeamish- This one is not for the faint hearted, the extreme animal lover or anyone who has ever been affiliated in any way with PETA (I have a feeling none of my readers have ever been involved with the later, but I must include it just to be safe).
So, here we go
Cuy, is Guinea Pig and Guinea Pig is a delicacy here in Ecuador. You see them by the roadside when traveling through the country, or on the menu at restuarants (mainly catering to tourist) and they are usually on a spit, roasting, head, teeth, tail and all- not a pretty sight. Well our little adventure begins with a phone call. Joe called me on Monday very excited. He asked me to run over to his office quickly because we had something there. This usually means MAIL, but since it was a Monday (not a normal mail day for us) I was a little skeptical, but being the good wife that I am, I headed over to the hospital.
Earlier that morning a patient of his had brought a little gift- yep you guessed it and right there laying on his desk was a plastic bag with a freshly killed Cuy.
Let me take this opportunity to first explain that this was a very expensive gift and we completely understand and appreciate the light in which it was given. It was a very sweet token of her appreciation and we are grateful- Cuy in a restaurant cost about $20 and the average meal here is about $2-$5- This sweet, sweet lady raises Cuy and was kind enough to not only kill it for us that morning, but also clean it.
But, I have no idea how to cook Cuy, so.....
It seemed the perfect timing for the gift because we were leaving that afternoon for Quito to pick up some very good friends for the airport. The Garvellis were flying in to visit for a few weeks, and I figured, who would appreciate fresh Cuy more than the Garvellis? So, I washed it out, cleaned it up the best I could, put it in a ziplock bag and put it in the refrigerator and let it wait for our friends.
So, tonight was the night, I had chicken ready to grill and we added the Cuy right along. I have to admit it was kind of surreal using the tongs to place this creature, face, feet and all on the gril right along with chicken breasts. The first problem came when I used the temperature fork to check if the chicken was done. I wasn't sure at what temperature Cuy is done- so i just guessed it was like pork.....
The next problem came with plating it. I just plopped him right down on the platter with the rest of our dinner- but the kids didn't really appreciate that too much and then of course Sebastiao had to point out that it had been a boy guinea pig and Isabella said she was afraid for her hamsters life, so we took it off the table.
Next problem, how do you carve up a Guinea Pig?
I had done my part with the cooking, and my husband of course was at the hospital, so the Joe who was visiting (Joe Garvelli) was kind enough to try his hand at it- he definitely got farther than I would have. We were glad to have shared this first experience with such good friends and even more glad that Garrett and Allie Garvelli were willing to try it- they were braver than most.
Let me just finish by saying I am not a Cuy Chef, nor will I probably ever be, but you can't beat the experience.