In many regions of Ecuador and Bolivia, cuy (Spanish for “Guinea Pig”) is a common delicacy, while in Peru it’s even the national dish. Grilled, smoked or fried — a freshly prepared cuy makes many Ecuadorian hearts leap for joy. However, even though I am not a Vegetarian and this blog isn’t a scientific treatise neither, I will give you five reasons why you should not eat cuy.

My first C-U-Y!

Guinea-Pig Dish Plate Delicacy in Ecuador — © Stella Genge.
Guinea-Pig Dish Plate Delicacy in Ecuador — © Stella Genge.

On my way to the Quilotoa laguna, I stopped at a famous, but traditional cuy place where I finally ate my first, grilled guinea pig. After reading and hearing so much about this “fancy” Ecuadorian plate, I definitely had to try it myself. As you can see on the pictures, it was served with boiled potatoes, avocado and a cheese-like sauce.

So, why do I not recommend you the cuy?

Grilled / Smoked Guinea-Pig from the BBQ Grill — © Stella Genge.
Grilled / Smoked Guinea-Pig from the BBQ Grill — © Stella Genge.
  1. Cuy really tastes like chicken! So, my advice, eat the proper animal, if you are keen on eating chicken!
  2. There is seriously (almost no) meat! …Which means that, you technically do not miss anything, if you do not eat it.
  3. For local circumstances, it is also way too expensive! You easily pay 10 US $ p. cuy, while a “regular” three course menu including drinks cost you like 3 US $.
  4. The cross, grilled or fried skin of the cuy really is the worst part about the dish! (By the way, most Ecuadorians do not like it either.)
  5. Cuy is high in protein and low in fat — just like beans. So, why don’t you (morally inoffensive) enjoy beans instead? :-)

So, now what?

Smoked Cuy / Guinea-Pig on the Grill — © Stella Genge.
Smoked Cuy / Guinea-Pig on the Grill — © Stella Genge.

That I do not recommend you to eat the cuy, however, does not mean that you shouldn’t taste Ecuador’s traditional cuisine. But, if you really want to try a traditional dish, you better go for the following, worth-eating Ecuadorian plates:

  1. Menestras — Typical dish that consists of rice, plantain, lenses and your choice of (real) meat
  2. Llapingachos — Delicious hash browns filled with cheese and roasted in oil
  3. Locro de Papa — Tasty potato soup, usually served with avocado, egg and cheese as a toping
  4. Choclos con Habas — Also a very traditional dish: corncobs served with horse beans and cheese
  5. Sopa de Quinoa / Quinoa soup — tasty and healthy and the same time since Quinoa is considered to be one of the world’s “superfoods”
  6. Ceviche — Last but not least, a delicious fish bowl, prepared with lemon and onions

¡Buen provecho!

Delicious Cuy Dish Plate in Ecuador — © Stella Genge.
Delicious Cuy Dish Plate in Ecuador — © Stella Genge.

Originally published on Ailola by Stella Genge on November 13, 2016.