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Friday, October 17, 2014

Muy Cuy!

The Cusco Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas
Not bad for a drive by photo, eh?
On Friday, mid-afternoon, Ingrid joined me in Cusco. We chatted, catching up on our individual adventures and then Ingrid asked if I was ready to enjoy my first meal of  'Cuy', pronounced 'Coo-ee'. I was game, so we headed out and caught a taxi.

Driver's view of narrow streets of old Cusco
Our taxi ride, which cost cinco Soles, took us past the Cathedral Basilika of the Assumption of the Virgin, located in the Plaza de Armas. Ingrid pointed out the Cathedral was built on the ancient foundation of old Incan palace. Interestingly, the foundation is far more stable than the Spanish built Cathedral, as the Incans were superlative builders. I am fascinated by the many narrow cobbled Cusco streets, that are lined with shops and art galleries.

Before long our driver was pointing out the cute little restaurant where we were to have genuine Cuy for dinner.
Ingrid headed for the 'Pachapapa'
Inside the doorway was a small room with displays of jewelry and beyond that was a door to the restaurant, an open air seating area, with two very large open air ovens.

The Patio with a view of the two stone ovens in the distance
Once we were seated we perused the menu before both ordering a Cuy. Then our very friendly waiter told us we would have to wait a full hour for our oven roasted Cuy. Our orders in, he brought us some tiny little ping-pong ball sized bread rolls with interesting sauces of red and green whose ingredients I couldn't identify. I had to take a photo of the tasty little buns.

Next we ordered our drinks, and I thought I would try one of the local specialties Ingrid told me about.  I ordered Chicha Morada, made of boiled blue corn, apple and other fruits, and spices. The stuff was delicious and I was hard pressed to dismiss it as less than nectar of the gods.

While we waited for our dinners to roast in the slow ovens, we chatted, watched our fellow dinners and as it was an outdoor venue I even got in some passive bird watching.

Finally our waiter proudly marched up to our table and presented us with a genuine, stone oven roasted Cuy. It was presented by the v. kind waiter specifically so I could take a photo prior to the Cuy being carved up for a proper dinner-time presentation.  I present to you, 'Cuy del Peru'!
Freshy baked Cuy, presentation arranged specifically for my camera
I was gob-smacked! There, on a bed of fresh peppers and parsley, was spread one of our two dinner entrees, intact with head and teensie footsies. I was somewhere half way between facinated and horrified. WOW! My father used to regularly eat such fare when he was a boy in Panama! I did my best not to think of my dear friend Joann and her many little furry buddies we used to play with.

I must say, I was tickled that our waiter had picked up on my need to photograph all the food that entered my vicinity. When we - and other diners come to that - had finished admiring the crispy delicacy, our waiter spirited it away, returning a few minutes later with properly prepared Cuy, cut up and de-footed for our dinning pleasure. The 'Cuy horneado con huacatay y aji panca' was served with local spices and panca chili for S/.70 which was 70 soles ($23).

Properly served Cuy with interesting Peruvian potatoes
Now! The flavor of Cuy? Ingrid described it best, "very lean duck meat", and I could only add to that to say it was indeed sweet, rich and down right delicate in flavor - Yummy!

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