Sunday, February 10, 2019

Peru: When in Peru... eat cuy, picuro and alpaca

Before I scare off anyone, thought it might be wise to put a disclaimer here. If you do not know what is cuy or picuro, please do a quick google before continuing. Ok, end of public service announcement.
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I mentioned in my previous post that I made a reservation for dinner on my first day in Cuzco. I have previously asked a staff in one of the tourist information centre in Pisac for recommendation of restaurants to go. He didn't give me any restaurant recommendation but instead recommended a whole different place called Tipón. Tipón is about an hour away by car from Cuzco so I didn't make a trip and ended up at Kusikuy Restaurante.


Kusikey Restaurante is located in the middle of a series of staircase like this. Even the staff in the restaurant thought I have injured myself as I had to limp my way out. As you know muscle soreness is usually worse when you started walking from a sitting down position. Haha.

The main reason I had to make a reservation before is because of cooking time. I wanted to have cuy al horno (baked guinea pig). If you are trying cuy for the first time, I recommend trying cuy al horno as this is the way it is traditionally served in the Andean region. It is stuffed with herbs and slow baked over a spit, over an hour or so, hence the need for reservation.


I decided to have a full whole meal, complete with the national alcoholic drink of Peru - Pisco Sour. I think at 6PM is an early-ish dinner time so the restaurant was rather quiet though there were 2 other groups of customer, both having cuy.


A whole cuy was brought out for photography purposes first. After that they brought it back in to the kitchen for carving before serving.


A whole guinea pig was served with some side dishes of corn, stuffed fried bread and sauces. People usually described unknown food as "taste like chicken" but no, cuy doesn't taste like chicken, it is a little bit more gamey but less than beef or lamb, with crispy skin. I was told to take a bit of everything and eat together. It is actually quite delicious. I don't mind having it again but maybe not by myself. Despite not looking like a very big plate, it was a big portion and I couldn't finish it all. I paid S/90 (~USD 27 / ~AUD 38 / ~RM 110) for the meal, S/70 for cuy, S/16 for pisco sour and round up the amount. 

I had my first taste of guinea pig in Cuzco. I also had my first taste of alpaca in Cuzco. Alpaca, unlike cuy was not served as whole, understandably. I decided to have alpaca al parrilla (grilled alpaca) so that it wasn't overwhelm by other sauces. Cost: S/35 (~USD 10 / ~AUD 15 / ~RM 43)


I looked up restaurants that serve cuy because I don't want to risk eating horrible tasting cuy, i didn't do so for alpaca. I just rocked up to a shop a few doors down from Hotel Frankenstein where I stayed Alpaca obviously is more common and many more eateries serve this meat. Alpaca reminded me a little of veal.

Picuro is the one in darker colour
Next up was picuro. I had this in Puerto Maldonado, not in Cuzco. I have no idea what picuro is till much later. It was ironic that I was asking my friend if eating guinea pig is equivalent to eating a rat. My friend answered me that it is a common delicacy in Andean region and it has been domesticated, so a bit unlike rat. However, I'm sure the same applies to picuro. Haha.

I have since found out that picuro is a lowland paca, a large rodent. The version I had was picuro mechado (stewed picuro). I was on the way to the airport and my guide to Tambopata National Reserve asked if I want to get some food for lunch. We stopped by the road side and he said that his favourite dish is picuro. I didn't know what it was but so easily convinced so I ended up with this picuro dish. This stewed picuro dish came with side dishes of cassava and bananas, S/18 (~USD 5.50 / ~AUD 7.70 / ~RM 22). It tasted like wild boar and was delicious.

If you realised - I had cuy in a restaurant, alpaca in a neighbourhood eatery and picuro was a takeaway from a roadside stall. I actually ended up eating my takeaway lunch, sitting on a luggage trolley outside of Padre Aldamiz International Airport in Puerto Maldonado. It was a small airport and all the seats at the departure lounge (before security check) were taken. In addition, I didn't want the smell of my food to take over the whole airport.


Side note: I also realised my selection logic is skewed to the ones I do not know... hahaha...

2 comments:

  1. "More gamey but less than beef or lamb, with crispy skin" ...

    So it tastes a little like suckling pig? :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey...! That is true! It did just a bit more gamey than suckling pig!

    ReplyDelete

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