Posted by: adventuressetravels | October 28, 2010

Crucified Rat

The first time I saw the pitiful little figures spread-eagled on


spits, mouths gaping open   in a final scream of terror, I was shocked and appalled.  I was looking at pets! These were cute, (formerly) fuzzy guinea pigs!

“These aren’t pets … they’re cuy and they are delicious,” the Ecuadorian sitting next to me replied, licking his lips as if imagining

the flesh melting in his mouth.  My stomach churned.

Normally I am fine with people eating meat around me.  Native dishes don’t bother me, even seeing carcasses hanging from hooks in markets don’t get to me (too much).  But something about these little creatures impaled on little stakes, that just seeing them raises the hairs on the back of my neck.

It is incredible just how intent Ecuadorians are in getting me to try this national delicacy.

One boy in Loja was especially persistent and told me th

at he would get his grandmother to make some for me.

“Sorry, I don’t eat meat,” I replied, more thankful of that excuse than I had ever been in my life.

“But she made the best cuy,”

But I still don’t eat meat.”

“But you would be insulting her if you don’t eat it.”  This went back and forth for a while before I finally gave up.  There was no use arguing with him.  Instead I changed the subject.  Thankfully my bus was leaving town was later that day.

Once again in Cuenca I encountered gung-ho Ecuadorians; “But eating the local food is the best part of traveling,” said my couchsurfing host in Cuenca.  “When I was in China I didn’t want to eat dog.  They were selling them on sticks on the street.  At first I thought they were cuy.  W

hen I found out they were dog I didn’t really want to eat them, but I did at least try it.  Just try some.  We won’t tell anyone.”

But it isn’t just me who is taken aback by the little animals.  When I went to El Mitad del Mundo, the Middle of the World museum

, when the guide lead my group into the indigenous section of the museum, there was a little pen with several guinea pigs running around in it.

When the guide explained how cuy was still a delicacy in Ecuador, the Colombian women, dressed in their high-fashion chic, recoiled in horror.  “But they’re rats! You eat those?!”

She was right. They did look a little like rats and even more so when theywere on the fire.  They were crucified rats, I realized in horror.

“They taste a little like chicken.  They’re really good for you – low in fat,” the guide chuckled, egging the woman on.

“I don’t care how good they are for you.  I’ll stick to chicken,” the woman said decidedly.

I was with her.  No matter how many people try to convince me, no matter how mouthwatering cuy is I think I can safely say that I will stay away from dining on crucified rat.


  1. ew!!

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