Peru is a land of many surprises. I’ve written of a few such surprises before (click here). But I really wasn’t prepared for the somewhat questionable, or should I say startling, culinary surprise that was waiting for me in Cuzco, Peru.
Cuzco, altitude 11,200 feet, is a beautiful little city in the Andes. Many use Cuzco as the jumping off point for a trip further into the Andes to visit Machu Picchu. A small train runs from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes , the closest village at the foot of Macchu Picchu. Adventurous travelers jump off the train 88 kilometers from Cuzco to hike the final 39. 6 km via the Inca Trail – a four-day hike. The more rational travelers remain on board and enjoy the views as the train winds its way upward to Aguas Calientes.
Cuzco maintains a central core of Colonial Spanish Architecture and is surrounded by a variety of Inca ruins. The most notable of these is Sacsayhuaman (our guide joked that the name is best remembered as “Sexy Woman”). This mnemonic device not withstanding, the ruins are truly impressive, and mark the site of the battle between Pizarro’s forces and the Inca in 1536.
When it’s time to eat, Cuzco has many delightful restaurants. We chose one overlooking the main city center at Plaza de Armas. With a group of local musicians entertaining us, we checked out the menu and then took an adventurous leap. We selected the traditional local Peruvian specialty – Cuy. For the uninitiated, “Cuy” is what we know as “guinea pig.” Yep – that’s right – we ordered the guinea pig. I personally log such experiences under, “When in Rome…………..”
The Cuy was well roasted and served..shall we say…..totally in tact…..head, feet, and all. The taste? You guessed it – sort of like over roasted chicken. I must say there is not much meat on those little guys. But that’s just as well because a little seemed to go a long way. It was a meal for the experience – but not an experience that I would want to repeat.
We lingered awhile to enjoy the music and view. We washed down the Cuy with a Pisco Sour – another regional specialty made with pisco brandy ( from nearby Pisco, Peru), lemon juice, and sugar. Then we headed across the square for a Big Mac at McDonald’s.
Dine In Peru……….Enjoy The Adventure
Travel Photography by B.W.Bean