Monday, October 31, 2005

The Big Betrayal

Substituting Le Gorgeously Clucking Coq (r.i.p.) for Rodentiously Grimy Guinea Pigs??

Mais alors! Sacre Vache!Zerr can be only ze one answer to zat!

On Fifty Things you have to eat before you die:
(the BBC programme), Guinea pig is at a remarkably high 32.

31. Venison
32. Guinea pig
33. Shark
34. Sushi
35. Paella

31. Venison
Fans of Bambi look away now. Venison (deer, elk, moose, caribou and reindeer meat), traditionally a privilege of the hunting nobility, is enjoying a revival among us modern-age peasants. Seen as a healthy alternative to farmed produce, venison is low in fat and high in protein with lots of vitamin B, iron, potassium and phosphorus (for teeth and bones). Hang up your jodhpurs and copy of Horse and Hound, though, as these days venison – often of the farmed variety - is as likely to be found in your local food market as it is frolicking about the forest floor.

32. Guinea pig
They may be sweet as pets but they also happen to be savoury in some parts of the world, namely South America where they were first domesticated by the Inca in modern-day Peru. Fifteen centuries later these family pets/ready meals remain an Andean delicacy, which when fried or roasted form the traditional dish known as cuy. Peruvians get through something like 22 million of the fluffy rodents annually, which are said to taste of rabbit and have less fat and more protein than chicken, pork or red meat. Spanish colonial paintings of the Last Supper in the old Inca capital of Cusco even show Christ and his apostles feasting on some roasted cuy. So, if you're not too attached to them as pets then get the oven on. They may well taste heavenly.
In Peru, as well as in Portugal, one sees, some restaurants, these 'furry things' running around on the ground and you are expected to go and pick your own animal out. When it arrives at the table, it looks a bit like crispy duck with its leg in the air and its head intact, but still with its front teeth and whiskers! Itis surprisingly tasty. Once you get going you forget it is guinea pig!

33. Shark
Don't be fooled by those sharp teeth - these days Jaws is more endangered than dangerous. Shark's fin soup has long been a Chinese delicacy, counted as one of the pu foods (foods that are meant to endow the eater with the qualities of the animal being eaten), with a reputation for strengthening and repairing the human body. Nowadays, shark is sought after as a highly exotic, and highly expensive, commodity. The fin of a whale shark, for instance, can fetch over £10,000. Shark's fin soup, which usually has a base of a rich chicken broth, has a gelatinous quality of remarkable texture and is extremely high in protein. However, unless you're feeling particularly flush, or plan to catch it yourself, maybe a tuna sandwich is a safer, cheaper, and possibly more ethical seafood option.

34. Sushi
Second only to Sony, sushi is perhaps Japan's most famous export and a culinary art form in itself. Those little rolls of rice and raw fish are not to be sniffed at - it takes ten years of apprenticeship training to become a master sushi chef. Served with soy sauce, wasabi (a ferociously hot green paste, said by some to be an effective antidote to fish poisoning) and sweet pickled ginger, regular sushi eaters can feel very virtuous, as sushi is low in fat and high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids and is extremely nutritious.

In Japan, sushi is frequently eaten at kaiten-zushi, or 'fast-food' restaurants where you sit on a stool and select your favourite dishes from a revolving conveyer belt. It's best accompanied by green tea or, if you like, sake, Japanese rice wine, which if consumed in over-enthusiastic amounts may well result in the room revolving in addition to the sushi.

35. Paella
Hailing from Valencia in Spain, paella is the Catalan word for 'pan'. Paella is both the dish itself and the shallow metal pan in which this complex rice dish is cooked. There are lots of regional variations, but the staple ingredients tend to be vegetables, meat or seafood, saffron and olive oil. Rabbits and snails sometime make their appearance, too. Gargantuan paellas are often prepared in Valencia to mark special occasions, such as festivals or rallies. The largest paella recorded was made in 1992 and spanned a 20-metre width, weighing 30,000 kilograms, as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. Try getting that down your pie-hole.

A recipe for fried Guinea Pig

CUY CHAQTADO Fried Guinea Pig (Ayacucho-style)

1 guinea pig, de-haired, gutted, and cleaned
1/2 c. flour
1/4 - 1/2 t. ground cumin
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 c. oil

Pat dry the skin of the guinea pig and rub in the cumin, salt, and pepper. Preheat oil. Dust the carcass with the flour and place it on its back in the oil, turning to cook both sides. Alternately, the guinea pig can be cut and fried in quarters.

Serve with boiled potato or boiled manioc root, and a salad of cut tomatoes and slivered onions bathed in lime juice and a bit of salt. Have cold beer on hand.

Be sure to go look at this site! LINK

and more about the little critters:

Beloved pet is an Andean food staple

LIMA, Peru -- Sitting at a restaurant known for its typical Andean dishes, Lilia Chauca puts aside her fork and knife and digs into a plate of guinea pig, fried golden brown.

"You need to eat this with your hands," she says, tearing off a leg.

The guinea pig is a cuddly pet for millions of children all over the world, as well as for a select group opf saunaites in Brisbane, Australia. In Peru, the rodent's birthplace, it remains a vital source of protein in rural communities, a mainstay of Andean folk medicine and a religious sacrifice to the gods.

For more than 25 years, Chauca and her team of researchers at the National Institute of Agrarian Investigation have worked to breed faster growing, plumper, tastier guinea pigs. Peruvians eat 65 million guinea pigs each year, she says.

Chauca says the animals are raised in about 98 percent of rural Andean households in Peru. Often as many as several dozen can be found scampering underfoot by the kitchen stove or are kept in adobe brick enclosures. They are fed alfalfa and vegetable peels.

Guinea pigs also are a common food source in Ecuador's Andes as well as in parts of Bolivia, Colombia and Venezuela.

The animal is high in protein and low in fat and cholesterol and it has a distinctive flavor.

Picking the scant, sinewy meat from the bony carcass invariably requires two hands. It is often served with the head staring up from the plate -- one more element that turns off many foreign tourists.

It is common to find guinea pig served deep fried at roadside stalls in Andean hamlets. On a recent day outside the village of Quinua, foreign tourists were found debating whether to sample one.

"You want that guinea pig without a tail, right?" a vendor joked. In the Peruvian lexicon, guinea pig with a tail is a rat.

Tipsy guinea pigs used to heal
Archaeological evidence shows guinea pigs were domesticated in Peru as far back as 2500 B.C., and probably long before that, said Daniel Sandweiss, an archaeologist at the University of Maine.

His excavation in the 1980s in the Chincha Valley, near Peru's central Pacific coast, proved that current ritual healing practices with guinea pigs date back at least to the Inca empire which reached its height in the 1400s before the Spanish conquest.

Clemente Villanueva, third generation traditional healer, feeds a guinea pig beer. He says the animals curitive powers against bad luck are strongest when it is drunk

Peruvians of varying social classes still seek out ritual healers, or "curanderos," who use guinea pigs to diagnose illnesses.

The curandero rubs a guinea pig over the patient's body, then splits the creature down the middle to look for discoloration that is believed to indicate illness in the corresponding organ or body part of the human.

"We use CAT scans, and they use guinea pig scans. That's the idea," Sandweiss said.

In the village of Huasao, a 20-minute drive south of Cuzco, Clemente Villanueva, a third generation curandero, treats bad luck with tipsy guinea pigs.

Grasping a jet-black guinea pig, he forces it to drink a tall glass of beer. The animal's power to remove bad luck is stronger when it is drunk, Villanueva explains as he adorns the glassy-eyed rodent with colored ribbons before rubbing it over a patient.

He says the guinea pig will be set free in the countryside, ribbons and all, but will remain highly contagious with bad luck that will pass to anyone who has the misfortune to cross its path.

Guinea pigs have historical roots: A 17th century native chronicler, Guaman Poma de Ayala, wrote that the Incas sacrificed 1,000 white guinea pigs along with 100 llamas in Cuzco's main plaza each July "so that neither the sun nor the waters would harm the food and the fields."

From the beginning of the Spanish colonization, the Catholic Church brutally suppressed Indian religious icons. But the guinea pig was spared.

Geronimo de Loayza, the first bishop of Lima from 1545 to 1575, refused a request by Spanish priests to order the mass extermination of the rodents, fearing it would spark a rebellion.

The Spanish colonizers made Indian artists paint, weave and carve items with Catholic themes to decorate churches and evangelize the natives. The artists copied prints imported from Europe, but added Peruvian touches, creating a unique "Andean baroque" style.

Today, churches in Lima and Cuzco still display Indian depictions of the Last Supper with Jesus and the 12 disciples feasting on roasted guinea pig.


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