Wednesday, January 28, 2009


When I showed a new friend a photo of Crater Lake (Oregon’s sole national park), he said it looks just like Laguna Cuicocha (Kichwa for Guinea Pig Lake). We journeyed there yesterday and it is a great spot. Proportionally smaller than CL (with a rim trail of 10k vs. 40 miles), but similarly stunning. We boated out to the islands to see the bubbling gases from the not-inactive volcano, loved it. Looking forward to returning for an overnight in the lovely guest rooms at the sweet little hotel/concessionaire.

So, what’s up with the guinea pigs?

I hear you asking. The one Ecuadorian food we had learned of from our research before the trip was roasted guinea pig. That seemed strange, but there it is. We’ve been invited to come eat some in a home, saw it on a menu yesterday (photo), seen some on the hoof, seen signs advertising it, haven’t yet sealed the deal. Why guinea pig?

I’ve decided it’s kind of a Jared Diamond thing. Living in the mountains, there were few animals of any size, and no others to domesticate. It reminds me of climbing in the Tetons; if I had wanted to eat meat, it would have been marmot (no grizzlies in Ecuador). It’s just the same here; the traditional fancy feast is the animal you’ve always had. Now that cow and pig and chicken are here, it seems silly, but traditions are important. It’s kind of like Peking Duck, right? You have to call ahead to order that in a Chinese restaurant.

Hope to tell you soon that it tastes just like chicken. P


Kay said...

Hmmm. Guns, Germs and Guinea Pigs. Has a nice ring to it!

Those Bartons said...

I remember accompanying my American classmates in Beijing to try the famed "Peking Duck" at an oddly westernized looking restaurant. My impression...very greasy and the brains rather salty. I think Peking Duck is now served to capture the imagination of Westerners more than a delicate cuisine of the orient. It might be square to call a rat...a rat.

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