Do you remember those furry little pets called guinea pigs that either you or your friends had growing up? Forget that image and enter the world of fine dining in Ecuador. Cuy! (There are plenty of images to browse on google of this fine feast) Above is my friend, Patty. She and I got into a discussion about these little animals after I saw a pen of them in the yard of a home in Paluga. She was surprised and amused to find out that in America we keep these animals as pets. They are commonly kept in pens in the yards of many homes in South America...just like you might find a pen of chickens in some yards in America. We don't think anything of someone going out and getting a chicken to make into a feast, do we? The same is true for the cuy in Ecuador. They are not named, talked to or cuddled. They are simply fed and eaten when the time is right. This has been going on in Ecuador for thousands of years. The Incas ate cuy. When the Spaniards conquered them in the 1500's, the tradition of fine dining didn't end there. Many of the indigenous people were converted to Catholicism. Early traditions die hard as shown in a painting of the last supper in a cathedral in Cuzco.
Nothing but the best for Jesus and his disciples at this last supper. It is interesting to note that there are other items at this feast that are native to the Andes Region of South America.
(I did not actually see this painting but had heard about it. Cuzco is actually in Peru. I found the painting with the help of the internet)
I had been warned about cuy before I left on my trip. It is a delicacy. It can be expensive and is often reserved for guests or special occasion only. Every year the mission team has been served this. This year was the first year that it was not served. I was actually a little disappointed. I wanted to be able to say that I had experienced this!