It was our final day in Cusco and yet somehow, we still hadn’t managed to get round to trying one of the (unofficial) national dishes of Peru – Cuy.
Cuy is roast guinea pig, given what it is you can probably guess why we’d skipped this at every meal so far! My only experience with guinea pigs thus far was only ever as pets.
Still, it’s not like we’re in Peru every day and we had to embrace all parts of Peru so with this in mind, we decided that we would have to try it today (though at the back of our minds, we’d have totally been okay with not trying it and going “Oh well, at least we tried…”)
After breakfast at our hotel (which was actually really good – definitely one of the stand-out features of the Hotel El Mercado), we understandably were in no hurry to find more food.
We headed off in search of more of a ‘visual feast’ instead – pounding the streets of Cusco and trying to see as many of the sights that we’d missed as possible.
We were very often distracted by the Llamas and Alpacas as we went around this city though – like seriously, how cute is this one below? 😀
^ The lady looks like she’s thinking “Why the hell are these randos bothering my Llama? 🤔”
Eventually, we made our way through the city to San Pedro Market.
San Pedro Market is definitely not a market for tourists. Yes, there are some stuff just as you step into the market that tourists can buy, but for the most part, it’s a market run by and for the locals in Cusco.
This is where people come to eat, to get the fruit and veg, grains, flowers and even toads!
You know what, rather than try to describe to you what it’s like here – I’ll just show you…
^ Those are the toads mentioned earlier.
You see what I mean?
Leaving the market, we remembered that we still hadn’t been into the main cathedral and set off for the cathedral to right that wrong.
It’s actually quite impressive in the cathedral (although surprising dark) but you’re not allowed photos in there so you’ll have to go to Cusco to see what that’s like. 🙂 It’s not too expensive to get in so it’s worth checking out while you’re there.
On leaving the cathedral, we decided to finally head off in search of Cuy for lunch – problem is, we wanted to at least try to have it somewhere that was actually ‘good’ – whatever that means; we had no idea what good cuy was supposed to taste like.
We asked around and got recommendations from the locals (there are lots of places they recommended) and with that, we set off through lots of quiet side streets, sometimes think we’d taken the wrong turn but trudging along anyway, until we found one of the restaurants we’d been recommended.
As we’d be leaving for the airport in just a couple of hours, I decided to for the full Peruvian whack with lunch – Pisco sours, roasted alpaca and, because none of us had the courage to order one on our own, we got a whole roasted guinea pig to share.
When it came out of the kitchen, the sight of it did nothing to alleviate our nervousness – it still looked very much like a guinea pig, right down the front teeth sticking out.
(Apologies for the ridiculous orangeness of the photos! Not even sure what happened here…)
With a gulp and a grimace, I took my first bite “It’s actually not so bad…” I thought… and then proceeded to laugh as the others tried the cuy.
In false bravado, I took a second bite of the piece on my plate and that’s when it hit me – the cuy smelt and tasted very much like a guinea pig. I silently gagged and hurriedly washed it down with a big gulp of my pisco sours.
Still feeling brave and refusing to accept defeat, I went for a 3rd bite and it somehow tasted even worse. I think I chewed for a bit before spitting it out.
At this point, I accepted defeat. I have nothing wrong with cuy – I’m pretty sure Peruvians would be shocked at some of the stuff we eat in the U.K., I just knew at that point that perhaps cuy wasn’t for me.
Same as mushrooms or pea shoots, there are just some things I just don’t like and it’s not because there’s anything wrong with them, it’s just because I don’t like it – simple as.
The consensus was generally the same across the table.
Pleased with at least getting to try the cuy, we hurried off back to our hotel to pick up our stuff, grab a taxi and head off to the airport! Next stop –London!
Peru had been absolutely amazing and our only regret was not having even more time here so that we could have seen the Amazon amongst other things. We genuinely enjoyed every single part of it and had such an amazing time here.
It’d been a big dream of ours to visit Peru (remember, how I said we’d been planning on doing it over a year before and ended up going to South Africa instead because the logistics were just tricky for us to sort out?) and I’m so glad we finally got to do it!