Considering how angry he gets when something’s slightly overcooked it’s safe to say Gordon Ramsay has some strong opinions about food, but not everyone agrees with his latest recommendation; roasted guinea pig.
The celebrity chef raved about the dish on his new television show, Uncharted, which sees him travelling to ‘some of the most incredible and remote locations on Earth in search of culinary inspiration, epic adventures, and cultural experiences’.
While visiting Peru, Ramsay took an animal many of us have had scampering around in garden hutches at some point in our lives and turned it into a meal.
He rustled up guinea pigs for dinner, though admitted it’s not a dish he’d serve in the US.
Ramsay described the cuisine as ‘pretty good, like a suckling pig’ and added:
I can’t feature roasted guinea pig on my menus here in the US. I would be taken down. You do not know what you’re missing. I am telling you now, delicious.
Though the idea of eating the fluffy little creatures might seem surprising to those who think of them as pets, guinea pig is actually a popular delicacy in Peru.
According to the BBC, guinea pigs, or ‘cuy’ as they are known locally, have increased in popularity in the past few years and a boom in guinea pig farming is helping many peasant farmers who are living below the minimum wage to get out of poverty.
Lionel Vigil, the regional director of charity World Neighbours, explained how the delicacy began to spread:
The Incas have eaten cuy for centuries, but in the past it was only farmers in the Andes still eating them.
When they migrated to Lima they carried on, and little by little other Peruvians from different backgrounds started to get a taste for it and restaurants started to buy guinea pigs.
Despite Ramsay’s reservations about introducing guinea pig to his US restaurants, ex-pat Bolivians and Peruvians in the US are reportedly prepared to pay around $30 for a guinea pig which they eat on special occasions. South American restaurants on both coasts have been pushing the trend to meet demands.
It was hard to get permission from officials in the US, given the fact guinea pigs are usually regarded as pets there, but the BBC report one exporter, Mega Business, has persuaded authorities the dish is part of Andean culture and guinea pigs have a very important nutritional value.
Guinea pigs are said to be low in fat and high in protein. Traditionally they are served in full, with teeth, claws and all, however some people take the bones out before cooking it and others chop it up and fry it.
Take a look at a cooked guinea pig here:
The thought of eating guinea pig will likely be horrifying to many; whether vegan, vegetarian or someone who sticks to ‘traditional’ meats like chicken and beef. However, eating guinea pig can actually be beneficial to the environment.
Though nothing will be quite as effective as veganism when it comes to saving the planet, Matt Miller, an Idaho-based science writer with The Nature Conservancy, says rodents and other small livestock represent a low-impact meat alternative to carbon-costly beef, NPR report.
Guinea pigs don’t require the land that cattle do. They can be kept in backyards, or in your home. They’re docile and easy to raise.
There’s a clear cultural prejudice against eating guinea pigs, and rodents in general, in the United States. But finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint is a good idea, and so is eating small livestock, like guinea pigs.
Many people took to social media to share their thoughts after hearing Ramsay’s comments and while some were open and accepting of the idea others made their disgust clear.
Why would you eat Guinea Pigs? I mean Guinea Pigs… they’re cute!
— Sky (@The_Moon_Thief) July 24, 2019
Ummm, No, just NO
— KellyCarolina (@CarolinaGirlToo) July 23, 2019
I’ve had Guinea Pig. Not bad at all. Trust the master chef on this one. Gordon is right too
— Ben Schaffer (@beandabomb) July 23, 2019
I couldn’t do it, had them as pets as a kid. But I understand everywhere is a little different.
— jaytay8665 (@jaytay8665) July 23, 2019
Would you try guinea pig?
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.