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In South America, cuy (guinea pig) is a local specialty, and is supposed to taste like rabbit or chicken. Wikipedia claims that it is to be found in the highland areas of Ecuador, but doesn't elaborate much on its availability in the coastal regions.

Yummy roasted guinea pig

Image source - Wikipedia

So, I'm interested whether it's a common sight in restaurants in the Ecuador Sierra in general, but especially in Guayaquil and surrounding areas -- I would definitely like to nibble on one of those sweet, sweet rodents! Also, slightly off-topic, are there any health concerns related to consuming guinea pork (is it still called pork?) that can affect my gentle European stomach?

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So we know you can find it in many places in the highlands, your question should really be "Can it also be found in the low lands?" right? –  Peter Hahndorf Dec 16 '11 at 14:04
    
At least the second part of this question would also be at home on cooking.SE where I've seen similar questions asked. –  hippietrail Dec 16 '11 at 14:08
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You can also find cuy in Colombia and Peru, again I've only seen it in the Andes, not along the coast. –  Peter Hahndorf Dec 16 '11 at 15:01
    
@Peter: Yeah, exactly -- can this also be found in the low lands? But I was also curious about general availability -- is it common, or is it just a dish that's there, but you need to look for it in certain places? –  mindcorrosive Dec 16 '11 at 18:12
    
I do remember random restaurants in the Andes I've been to had it on the menu, you don't have to go to special restaurants. - I could not find any evidence about this online, but I would assume you can get it in Guayaquil as well, just for the highlanders who moved there and miss it. I guess you have to search for it though. –  Peter Hahndorf Dec 16 '11 at 18:27
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2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In the Andes regions of Ecuador, Colombia and Peru I've been to several restaurants where they served cuy. There was no need to search for special cuy eateries, I just saw them randomly on people's plates.

However I did not see any in restaurants in the low lands along the coast, but this could just be because they are not so popular there. I imagine that people from the mountains who now live on the coast still like to eat their cuys and there may be special places that serve them there too.

Whether your stomach can handle cuy meat is up to you but I met nobody who had a problem after eating them. Please make sure you eat them at a proper restaurant. In 2004 two locals in the Ecuadorian highlands died after eating their own guinea pigs which were infected by some sort of plague. See this article in German.

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Cuy is NOT tasty ;) It was very rich and oily and just not that pleasant at all. Most backpackers I met in Peru etc had the same opinion (although as always, there's always one or two that claim to enjoy it). Still, it had to be done ;)

I saw it in Puno (by Lake Titicaca) and in Arequipa as well, but I'd been trying llama, alpaca and any other animals that they believed were worthy of being on a plate. I tried cuy eventually in Cusco - we had to hunt a bit price-wise, but were told by locals in Puno that Cusco would be the place to eat it!

I also went through Ecuador, although only via Quito and nearby towns as I was running short on time - but didn't see it anywhere in Ecuador, unfortunately.

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Ah, such a selfless sacrifice in the name of culinary exploration.. –  mindcorrosive Dec 16 '11 at 22:19
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For sure. If it's new, I have to try it :) –  Mark Mayo Dec 16 '11 at 22:21
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