Yes, Andean Peruvians eat guinea pig, or cuy, and have done so for thousands of years in an environment that didn’t have an abundance of large animals to eat until the Spanish arrived. They were the population’s only good source of protein (camelids such as alpacas were sacred, large river fish such as trout were also introduced from abroad), guinea pigs were kept in the home to eat vegetable leftovers and eventually be eaten themselves.
Bread as food, Peruvian guinea pigs are huge and form the basis of a half dozen Andean dishes of today, from picante de cuy, chicharron de cuy to cuy chactado. Andean regions from north to south are proud of their local variations and now have an event at which to show them off.
The First Guinea Pig Festival took place in Huancavelica two weeks ago where visitors enjoyed a number of events, from tasting of a number of cuy-based dishes to a beauty pageant hoping to find the best looking animal!
Other events included a guinea pig race, art competition and the biggest guinea pig award (well raised guinea pigs can be the size of rabbits).
The region of Huancavelica hopes the yearly event will increase competition and quality among the some 40 breeders, as well as increase consumption of this healthy high-protein low-fat meat.