The Other Other White Meat

Cuy Dinner

Guinea pig?

Most recent scientific work looking at guinea pigs and diet mostly concerns what the animals eat (as a proxy for humans), and not having them eaten (by those same humans), but research from the 1980s finds guinea pig is good for you, with more protein and less fat than flesh from pigs, cows, sheep, or chickens. Guinea pig is also good for Mother Earth—you don’t need a Ponderosa-sized spread to raise them, and they convert their feed into edible protein twice as efficiently as a cow.

Update from a reader with insights as to why the meal isn’t more popular in American restaurants:

My father is from Peru and I’ve eaten home-cooked guinea pig while up in the Andes visiting family. Unlike what you can get away with when serving chicken, guinea pig – to taste at the very least “good” – must be cooked to order. This fact would disqualify most restaurants from serving it, I assume. It’s often pan fried whole in a chili paste/sauce in a wok-like vessel and because there is no thick portion of meat. And I would not want to eat a whole guinea pig that had been sitting under a heat lamp for three hours. It’s different with a fried chicken leg or breast, right? This is probably why (at least as of 10 years ago when I last visited) most all restaurants in Peru won’t serve it on menu.

(Image by Flickr user Erin & Camera)