¡ A Comer !, Cusco

Craving Cuy – The Peruvian Guinea Pig

IMG_7230

Before Europeans decided to make these little guys family pets, the ancient tribes of the Andes put these little fellows to a debatably better use. The Guinea Pig, or Cuy (KOO-ee) played an important role in religious ceremonies, medicinal practices, and at family gatherings over dinner table.

Cuy not only served as a good source of protein, but they were also used in medicinal practices. According to legend, when a member of the community became sick, the medicine man would sift for the Black Guinea Pig and take it to the bedside of the patient. He would then rub the animal along the body of the sick person, kill it and slice it open to be dissected. Whichever organs in the Cuy appeared black, or dark in color marked the area which was infected in the patient. This ritual is still practiced by the people of the mountains, according to popular belief.

Ceramic pots from the Moche People of  La Huaca del Sol y de la Luna demonstrate they were bred as a source of food cerca 100 A.D.

Traditionally, Cuy were kept underneath the floor boards of the kitchen and would graze on alfalfa in the garden until they were selected, slaughtered and prepared for lunch.

So what’s all the hype? The animal is a very efficient food source. After working through the guilt of devouring such a sweet furry little friend, the idea of consuming the meat makes perfect sense. Cuy is high in protein and low in cholesterol. They reproduce faster than most other livestock, and eat a simple diet of alfalfa, and herbs.

IMG_7226

Today, Cuy is most consumed in the campos of the Sierra. It is most commonly found in the Sacred Valley of Cusco where the tradition started thousands of years ago.

Flavor Profile: Gamey Chicken

To Enjoy: Have at it with your hands as you would an order of wings. This is completely acceptable if dining in the central market or in a fancy restaurant.

Insider Tips:

Do not make eye contact. Cuy is served whole, dig in quickly before you allow yourself to empathize with the little guy.

Watch out for the bones. they are small and can be difficult to separate from the meat.

Sauce it up! Peruvian cuisine comes with a lot of sauce, Cuy is usually served over a bed of potatoes with Huacatay sauce, or a flavorful peanut sauce. The pairing is  don’t cut yourself short.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cusco, Historical Site

How to be mindful while scaling La Montaña de Machu Picchu

IMG_8268

Machu Picchu Mountain is one of the four that surround the Sacred city of Machu Picchu. It is a must see if you make it to the ruins. The mountain peak stands 2000 ft above the ruins making the trek treacherous and completely necessary. Here are some tips for those interested.

Continue reading “How to be mindful while scaling La Montaña de Machu Picchu”

Cusco, Historical Site

Ollantaytambo

In the flood planes of the Urubamba river, between Cusco and Machu Picchu the Inca once built Otallantambo to both protect the Sacred village of Machu Picchu and to serve as ‘la puerta de la selva’ or the gateway into the Jungle. The ruins of Ollantaytambo will provide additional insight into the ancient Incan people, and marks the last stop before entering Machu Picchu.

Continue reading “Ollantaytambo”

Cusco

How to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu

The Trip to Cusco es un maravilloso for lack of better words. As one of the seven wonders of the world, it is a must see especially seeing as it is so accessible. However, getting there is not quite as simple as it may seem. It can become quite the headache arranging entrance tickets, bus travel, and train tickets. Take a deep breath, devise a plan and remember, half the fun is the travel.

Continue reading “How to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu”