In Michael Moore’s 1989 film “Roger & Me” there is a scene in which a woman in Flint, Michigan has a sign in her yard next to a cage of rabbits that says “Rabbits Bunnies Pets or Meat For Sale.” The film blames General Motors chairman Roger Smith for Flint’s economic decline and this scene is supposed to show the desperation that Flint residents have stooped to: they’re so hungry that they’re eating their pets!
Pets or meat? The answer depends on where you are. Take the guinea pig for example. In the United States and Europe the answer is pets. If you are in the South American Andes, the answer is meat. Before the Spaniards arrived with cows, goats, pigs and chickens, the main sources of animal protein in the Andes were llamas, alpacas and cuy, the Quechua name for guinea pig. With animal protein sources scarce, the pre-Columbian indigenous people did what they had to do to survive. If you are invited over to someone's house for a special occasion while in Peru, undoubtedly you will be served cuy.
The picture here is of my plate of roasted cuy over a rocota rellena (stuffed pepper) with some papas (potatoes) on the side. My little fella has an aji (chile pepper) in his mouth and sports a dandy little pepper and huacatay herb hat. Cuy has a chicken-like taste with lots of little bones and I wonder if I lost more calories searching and picking out bones than I gained by eating my dinner.