Fancy food in Peru – guinea pigs, or cuy

Chefs in the coastal Peruvian capital of Lima have turned guinea pig  — a staple protein of the Andes — into a gourmet dish.

The Associated Press reports that five years ago, chef Marilu Madueno added cuy, as guinea pigs are locally known, to the menu at La Huaca Pucllana, an exclusive Lima restaurant popular with tourists that overlooks a pre-Inca temple.

When she created the restaurant’s menu, Madueno correctly guessed that by chopping off the unsightly head and paws — cuy is traditionally served whole in the Andes – it would sell better.

Madueno, who estimates she sells about 30 a week at about $14 a plate, was quoted as saying, "We’re seeing cuy ordered more and more"

Guinea pig offered whole is the best option as the animal — slaughtered at about three months of age when the meat is still soft — has a bony carcass, which is offset by its thick and flavourful skin.

Adam Goldfarb, an issue specialist in the companion animals department of the Humane Society, said he was not aware of any federal laws prohibiting guinea pig consumption in the United States, but local legislation could vary.