The Journey Continues to Cuenca – Eating Here

My passion for food was one of the catalysts in a long journey that brought me to Cuenca, so it was fitting that while here, I had some of the most interesting and delectable meals of my journey.  It felt like the universe was winking at me, saying, “Your stomach will never lead you astray.”

The first meal up on my food journey was an encore performance of the brilliant ceviche de conchas that Romeo whipped up on the shrimp farm.  Before, I start in with the food, I have to say, one thing I really like about Romeo is that he understands what priorities are.  Returning from the farm for his week of vacation, the only things in his rucksack were toiletries and a giant sack of conchas.  Well played my friend, well played.  In pictures, here is the joyful preparation of a ceviche feast…

The assembly line of concha heaven.  One thing I love about Ecuador is that all of the neighbors come over to participate in the cooking rituals when time permits!

Please don’t forget to notice the giant bottle of strawberry flavored cola in the background.

The finished product with onion, peppers, lime and lots of love.

The Life of a Cuy

On our next stop in Cuenca, we stayed at Romeo’s other sister’s house, the one who raises and sells cuy (guinea pig).  Up until meeting Romeo’s family, I had previously thought that cuy was a special dish limited to the borders of Perú.  However, here in Romeo’s sister’s house, I can honestly say, her preparation of the cuy would put all Peruvians to shame.  After bathing the bodies of the cuyes in what I roughly translated as a non-spicy chimichurri sauce, we spit-roasted them to crispy perfection, and unlike the chewy mediocrity that was the skin of a cuy from Tipón, the skin of these cuyes didn’t require you to dislocate your jaw with each chew.

Not only was the cuy delicious, but there was something refreshing as well about the fact that we went out back to the pens, picked out our cuy and watched the whole process of preparing them from pen to grill.  I captured as much of the process as I had the stomach for, but stopped short of the shooting the “dying” process.

This one will do!  And just in case you think we’re cruel, we did a little “last dance” with the cuyes before their demise.

In you go!  Just in case anyone is worried, the pig is already dead at this stage but I chose to skip that step in pictures.  Here the animal is submerged in boiling water in order to pull the fur off.  Up until this point, I didn’t know how this process was done.  I’m ashamed to admit that I actually believed that cooks busted out some sort of specialized razor for this part.

So I definitely skipped a few steps but here are the pigs on the makeshift spit roast.  After depilating the cuyes, there was the not so pleasant process of disembowelment, of which I was so captivated and disgusted by I couldn’t pick up the camera.  And after that, the little guys marinated in the non-spicy chimichurri-esque sauce before being applied to the grill.  Happy eating folks!!


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