Peru Celebrates Tasty Guinea Pigs

The Associated Press
Monday, June 25, 2007; 11:05 PM

CHURIN, Peru -- Peru's celebration of the guinea pig included contests for the biggest, the best-dressed _ and the tastiest. The second annual festival of the cuy, as guinea pigs are known in the Andes, brought brass bands into the streets of highland Churin on Sunday to celebrate all things related to the furry rodents.

"Zero cholesterol! Protein for anemia!" Teresa Figeroa shouted from under her woven, flower-lined hat.

For 20 soles ($7), she sold plates of guinea pig fried, grilled, baked _ even cuy au vin _ with generous helpings of Andean potatoes and large Peruvian corn called choclo.

Foreigners may cringe at seeing the critters served for lunch, looking much like they did in life, face down on a bed of greens. But people came from across Peru to savor the meat and to compete in a cuy cookoff.

There was also a competition for the biggest guinea pig; the winner weighed in at almost 8 pounds of flesh, fat and fur. And some competed in a fashion show of traditional Andean dress, with guinea pigs decked out in fedoras and frilly skirts looking like Disney cartoons come to life.

But the food was the main event.

"This isn't common," said Nicolas Campos Sanchez, his lips shiny with grease as he ate a mouthful of barbecued guinea pig. "We're very proud of it."


© 2007 The Associated Press