Guinea pig meat, much loved as a festive food in Cuzco, as well as elsewhere in the andes, troubles many North Americans who see the animal only as a pet. Yet at the same time eating it seems both taboo and exotic. Many Americans and Canadians try the animal in restaurants when they visit Cuzco in part to break taboos as part of travel.
Yet with the migration of many Andeans to North America things are changing. The US Census reported for 2010 that 533,000 Ecuadorians, 462,000 Peruvians, and 83,000 Bolivians lived in the US. With their US born children these immigrants make for a very sizable community of probable guinea pig eaters, which is even greater if one includes North Americans who have learned to want to eat this rodent.
A report yesterday on The World form Public Radio International, a much celebrated national program, described food stands in New York where guinea pig is regularly roasted and served, as well as the efforts immigrants go through to get guinea pig meat. The note also described the efforts of Peruvian chefs to obtain and serve the meat on prominent Peruvian holidays.
That the food stand in New York is clandestine suggests fear that mainstream society may not accept eating this animal, but the report itself marks a growing public awareness and acceptance of the guinea pig not just as pet but also as food.