A Stir The Pots Post


by | Jan 13, 2007 | Food

I used to have a pet named Henrietta, a guinea pig. I thought she was cute until she bit me….I got my revenge when I got rid of her,  I never thought I would eat one of her distant relatives in my adult years though!

Our taxi driver drove us into the outskirts of Loja where we got out into what looked like a ghost town in some "western" movie set. The square was empty except for a few cars parked in front of a non-descript restaurant,I didn’t even notice a sign. It didn’t give any clues of what I was about to try next! The driver ran in first to investigate, came back nodding and talked to my brother-inlaw as I nervously tuned out my gringo brain, trying to avoid the inevitable. My wife squealed in delight when we realized they had found the place for cuy! Now having said all this I am I think a worldly traveler/chef and I have tried weird things, raw lobster tomale roll offered by a sushi chef,so I wasn’t going to back down this time! I was going to go in open minded and even noticed a group of travelers, talking about cuy in anticipation of there  meal! "Do they have chicken?" I asked. The driver ran to the back to ask, "Si!" he said, I sighed relief and said maybe a consomme my stomach was still weak from the hill a few klicks back where I had left my intestines most recently! My brother-inlaw was restless and he went to see if he could motivate the ladies cooking the cuy and see if they could find us a big fat one!
He hurriedly came back and wanted to introduce me to Dona Elisabeth who was on grill duty! I knew I was going to have to look at my upcoming meal, so I pleasantly walked back into a fairly primitive looking kitchen with three ladies and was told to take a picture of the chef!Cimg0173We exchanged pleasantries they giggled and there they were, roasting on a wood fire with a deathly grin and toothy smile, my lunch!Cimg0172
We went back to our table the server came out and asked for our order, I started to beg for chicken, my brother-inlaw was surprised I wasn’t in the mood for guinea pig,telling the lady to split the cuy in four with three soups and some beer(that alway’s works for me!).She quickly rushed back to get the other tables order served, they growing restive and sounded like they were dying for the "delicacy", oh lord!

The soup came out just as the first table was being served their cuy’s, they were washing down theirs with some highly artificial Andean soda that glowed neon! They requested more napkins and were relativley quiet all except for the sounds of eating, here we go…..
The soup came and had no resemblance to the consomme I know, a clear broth etc..No this was a milky soup with cilantro strewn, potato in the middle thing, what next I wondered? I took a few drops and nibbled on the tuber for sustenance, I felt like Oliver Twist at that moment  "may I have some more Sir?"! My brother-inlaw remarked that they put the chicken in the pot and removed it right away, because it had no chicken flavor we all laughed and then this came onto the scene!Cimg0178
I asked sheepishly about the chicken, and they said they had canceled it becuase they prepared it like the cuy by basting it with the fat from the cuy, gadzooks!
So without much enthusiasm and obvious discomfort I got the back haunches of one of the critters.I let the driver and brother-inlaw go for the head, not much there I thought! First thought, messy, greasy and crisp. Smell, well definitley highly seasoned with cumin and achiote.The meat was sparse in comparison to the chicharroned skin that had a crisp leather quality!
I attempted to look satisfied and left some skin, bones on my dish.I even ate the oil-cuy scented potato and legumes! My brother-inlaw was deep into the munchy frenzy and wouldn’t look up till he noticed my plate was still showing sign of abandonded effort to hide the barely eaten meal, hell there isn’t much on these critters! He whisked my plate over in disgust and polished off my little morsels I had tragically missed! The other travelers were finishing  and looked satisfied, I was hoping for something along the lines of a tamal or something! Filled with chicken or pork…….stay tuned for more!


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