The guinea pig or guinea pig is a mammal native to the Andean area of Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. The guinea pig is a food product of high nutritional value. In the Andean countries there is a stable population of more or less 35 million guinea pigs. Peru is the country with the largest population and consumption of guinea pigs, there is an annual production of 16,500 tons of meat from the benefit of more than 65 million guinea pigs.
The Peruvian guinea pig is a rodent of the Caviidae family and inhabits the surroundings of the Andean country Peru, although this does not mean that it only exists in this place. However, he is both identified as a native of that South American country, which is known throughout the world as Peruvian guinea pig.
In other latitudes it is also known as “field rat” and, although you may be surprised, there are many places where this animal is considered a pet, which generates a negative feeling at the idea of consuming it.
With a compact body that measures between 20 and 40 centimeters, and a hair that can be long or short, these peculiar herbivores were raised by populations that lived in the Andean region of ancient Peru, since remains of these rodents have been found in the Inca mummy tombs of ancient Peruvian civilizations. Today, centuries later, Peru is the country with the highest consumption and population of these rodents.
Nutritional benefits of Peruvian Guinea Pig meat
The peruvian guinea pig meat is a food of excellent taste and quality. It is characterized by containing high protein level and low in fat; in addition, good quality cholesterol, minerals and vitamins. Next, all the nutritional benefits of this Andean ancestral food of which Peru is the main producer on a world scale.
Peruvian guinea pig meat has a high biological value, because it contains the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids required in human nutrition. According to the Peruvian food composition tables 2017, prepared by the National Food and Nutrition Center of the National Institute of Health (INS) of the Ministry of Health (Minsa), peruvian guinea pig meat contains 78.1% water; 19% protein; 1.6% fat; 1.2% of minerals and 0.1% of total and available carbohydrates.
Among the most important minerals are Calcium (29 milligrams), Phosphorus (29 mg), Zinc (1.57 mg) and Iron (1.9 mg). Likewise, it shows the content of the main vitamins such as Thiamine (0.06 mg), Riboflavin (0.14 mg) and Niacin (6.50 mg); as well as the energy content that reaches 96 kilocalories (Kcal).
For its part, the final technical report presented by the National Institute for Agricultural Research (INIA), within the framework of the agreement with the National Institute for Agricultural Research and Technology and Food of Spain (INIA-Spain), and the International Center for Potato (CIP) shows, among other 13 investigations, the “Qualitative evaluation of guinea pig meat-Bromatological analysis”.
In this evaluation, the analysis of the chemical composition of the meat and skin of guinea pig was carried out; as well as analysis of amino acids in meat and guinea pig skin, muscle fat, cholesterol and minerals, which are detailed in the following paragraphs.
Peruvian guinea pig meat is made up of on average 74.64% moisture, 19.49% protein, 3.67% fat, and 1.14% minerals. Likewise, guinea pig skin that by tradition has been consuming, contains 60.21% moisture, 32.2% protein, 8.1% fat, and 0.4% minerals.
The highest humidity values are found in the meat and skin of young guinea pigs, 1.2% and 1.9% more humidity than adults. This indicates that young guinea pig meat is softer and juicier than adult guinea pigs. Regarding protein levels, the meat of young guinea pigs contains 0.64% more protein than adults, observing a variability according to the age of the guinea pig.
The protein content in skin of young guinea pigs is 2.64% higher than that of adults. The skin as a protective tissue, has a low nutritional contribution due to the quality of its proteins; the compounds that make it up are mostly non-essential amino acids such as glycine (collagen). However, it also contains essential amino acids, but in lower amounts.
Higher protein than other meats
The average protein content in guinea pig meat (19.49%) is higher than that of pork (14.1%) and beef (18.8%).
Peruvian guinea pig meat has high digestibility, low traces of cholesterol and triglycerides, high presence of linoleic and linolenic fatty acids, essential for humans. The existence of these fatty acids is very low or almost non-existent in other meats, and they are precursors of the conformation of arachidonic fatty acid (AA) and docosahexaenoic fatty acid (DHA). Both substances are vital for the development of neurons and cell membranes.
Peruvian Guinea Pig Dish
Much of the importance of the guinea pig in Peruvian culture is due to the fact that it is a typical dish of traditional cuisine. Peruvian guinea pig dish is used to enjoy both in the festivities of the towns and in the cities throughout the country.
Of the most important peruvian guinea pig dishes are the fried guinea pig and the spicy guinea pig, which are accompanied by:
Creole sauce: Onion filleted with lemon juice, salt, ají limo (traditional chili of Peruvian cuisine), coriander and olive oil.
Yellow potatoes: Cooked and bathed with the cooking broth of the guinea pig. The most widely used Peruvian varieties are “yungay” and “Indian egg”.
The 5 best recipes with Peruvian guinea pig
Fried guinea pig with spicy potatoes
This exquisite peruvian guinea pig dish is not lacking in the typical festivals of the Peruvian highlands, where thousands of national and international tourists arrive ready to satisfy your palate with the soft meat of the guinea pig, cooked over low heat for a few minutes. The secret of this recipe is to leave the skin of the rodent sufficiently crispy and crunchy that it is able to convince even the most demanding diner. This fried guinea pig is served with a generous portion of potatoes or corn.
Arequipa is not only the city of stuffed hot peppers and chairo. The best guinea pig in the country is also cooked in the White City. The key to preparing this dish is to carefully wash and peel the guinea pig. Once seasoned, the rodent meat is exposed to the sun for a few minutes. That way, it will arrive golden and crispy on the table. The cuy chactado is usually served with potato and mote, although there are other companions, such as sweet potato and corn.
Baked guinea pig
It is likely that, when talking about Cusco, the image of the dazzling Machu Picchu appears in your mind. But don’t think that’s the only thing this city has to offer you. Cusco’s gastronomy is one of the most pleasant in Peru and one of its most emblematic dishes is the baked guinea pig.
Spicy guinea pig
Among the most famous dishes made with this rodent is the exquisite spicy guinea pig. Although it is consumed throughout Peru, in the cities of the mountains it is cooked with its original recipe, so it acquires a unique flavor and aroma. Its preparation requires time and patience, but don’t worry, it will be worth the wait. At the end, you will have on your table a guinea pig that is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, which you can enjoy along with a good amount of white rice and boiled potatoes. Advantage!
Chi Jau Cuy
At this point, no one can deny that the fusion of Chinese and Peruvian food has given us incredible results; one of them is the chi jau guinea pig. Despite being on the menus for a few years, this dish has captivated thousands with its appetizing meat bathed in oyster sauce and served with sesame seeds. If you add chaufa rice to all this, have no doubt that you will be more than satisfied.
Touring Peru is discovering a variety of flavors, endless mysterious places, with hidden stories in corners that you may have never seen before stepping on this country. We recommend you to visit another impressive destinations in Cusco like the rainbow mountain tour, the humantay lake tour, or the sacred valley tour, which only takes one day. But if you are gonna to stay more days in Perú, other archaeological places you can know will be the machu picchu day tours from cusco.
Guinea Pig Festival in Perú
The guinea pig festival in Perú is one of the most beloved animals in our Peruvian highlands. It is a traditional part of our mountain fauna and it is believed that this animal was raised and consumed since time immemorial, since it was found inside burials of the Pre-Inca and Inca civilization.
In the month of May, the Poroy district holds a gastronomic guinea pig festival in Perú every year. In it you will find different contests for the best guinea pig-based dish, guinea pig races, guinea pig judging, etc.
The “fashion guinea pig” contest stands out. It consists of looking for the guinea pig with the best clothing. Guinea pigs with different costumes from the traditional dances of Peru, Andean clothing, modern clothing, etc. participated in this contest. This contest is very fun and attractive for citizens, since the breeders are committed to putting on a unique show with their animals.
This magnificent event is not only held in Poroy. It has become a tradition for Cusco and Peru and is celebrated in different parts of our country.
There is a gastronomic guinea pig festival in Perú, called “Sabe a Peru” where this animal was chosen as King of Fashion. This festival is celebrated in many parts of Peru and the guinea pig is the protagonist. Likewise, in this festival the guinea pigs share the stage with recognized Andean musical groups such as Picaflor de los Andes, Flor Pucarina, El Brujo de los Andes, etc; First, however, the guinea pigs model one by one on stage. At the end of this presentation, the jury names the winner of this costumed guinea pig catwalk, and he becomes the king, the “Fashion Cuy”.