Shortly after your arrival in Cuenca, you’ll realize that there are some pretty unique things here.
For example, you may wonder what the small chicken-sized animal is – on a stick – roasting over a grill. It is known locally as “cuy”. It is what we know as guinea pig, and it is the local delicacy. It is eaten on special occasions, and is one of the pricier meals here.
Loved by some, and held in disdain by others, the cuy is roasted whole over an open grill.
The cuy industry here is quite large, and in the surrounding countryside, you’ll see large fields of alfalfa – the food of choice for cuy farms. At the open markets, you can purchase them live, cleaned or roasted. Your choice.
Fresh Cooked Pork
Another unique feature here in Cuenca, is the roasted pig – you’ve probably never seen pork like this before. A stroll down a main road will provide many opportunities to sample the numerous ways to cook pork.
First, the whole pork is torched (with a blowtorch), to burn off the hair, and roast the skin. Then the body is scraped, to remove the layer of black ash. Then it is rubbed in butter, to give an amazing aroma.
Then, throughout the day, the pig is slowly butchered and cooked for passersby. It is deep fried (in pork fat, no less), pan fried, grilled and cooked in just about any other way you can imagine.
You will want to get some advice from locals about safe places to try this – not all street food is safe. However, after boiling in hot oil for a few hours, one could imagine that any bacteria that were present should be long dead.