As time goes on, guinea pig meat leaves a good impression on all who try it. It has an exquisite and unique flavor that contributes to many dishes.
Many people are dedicated to raising these animals we call cuys in our city. They must take care of them and give them adequate nutrition as well as a healthy life so that these small animals grow up healthily and are able to give that marvelous flavor when they are sacrificed and cooked.
How do these animals develop their exquisite flavor? It is due to the food they are given daily by those who raise them. The food includes fresh wheat or barley grass, lettuce, other grass, alfalfa, and the corn meal left over from making chicha (we call this sutuchi).
Today these animals are raised in cages, although some are raised in mud houses just as we used to raise them. In rural areas and in the mountains you will find lots of places where they are raised in mud houses. They keep these mud pens in kitchens near the hearths of the home so that the fire will keep them warm against the Andean cold. People also will put ashes from the hearths into their pens to drive away fleas and such.
Cuys reproduce rapidly. A pregnant sow can give 3 or 4 young. She and her young are then separated from the male guinea pigs, called cututus, so that they are left alone and the sow does not get pregnant again immediately. If that were to happen, the young would not survive. For that reason each cage or house only has three females and one cututu.
The cuy type we call mauro mina is one of the largest. There are others we call maltones. They have long hair on their tail-side. En Quechua they are called supucututus.
Guinea Pigs come in different sizes and different colors.
The majority of those who raise cuys keep their cuyerias, their cuy farms in different parts of the city near where wonderful dishes made from their meat are offered to the public. These dishes include cuy chactado, pipian de cuy, chiriuchu, and cancancho de cuy. All of these and more are given us by this beautiful, small animal. The people of Cuzco appreciate them greatly. It is not without reason that guinea pig is the food that most symbolizes us.