January 2014 - Did you know?About Cusco

When in Peru, eat like the Peruvians! Cuy:the most controversial Andean Delicacy

Cuy, the most controversial andean delicacy

Everyone who visits Peru will soon be faced with the opportunity to sample one of Peru’s most controversial Andean delicacies (at least to tourists), the notorious guinea pig known as “Cuy”.

The exact history of the guinea pig as an important dietary source has been hard to decipher, perhaps due to the small size of their bones, but some archaeologists claim that omestication of these small rodents may have begun as early as 10,000 BC in the Altiplano region of Southern Peru.

Apparently, cuy are very adaptable to their environment though highly vulnerable to drastic changes in climate. This probably is the reason that they particularly enjoy the comforts of living indoors, most often in the kitchen where they are given leftovers, although they prefer and thrive on alfalfa. Quite some families will have as many as 20 cuy and treat them much the same as chickens.

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Coca Culture in the Ancient Andes

Coca culture in the ancient andes

Within Andean mythology, nature is hugely important as a representation of a Deity. This can be shown in the Andean peoples’ relationship with the landscape, including mountains, animals and plants. With some of these they attributed sacred meanings and established communication and intricate rituals and ceremonies that have stood the test of time and still exist today.

Many plants native to the Andean people that have this sacred meaning and exemplify this means of communication with the Andean “Mother Nature” and self-exploration is the San Pedro cactus, or Wachuma, the Amazonian Ayahuasca and of course, the coca leaf. One of the reasons for taking these plants was to explore one’s own direction and spiritual journey.

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