Guinea Pigs - Better Served as Pets or Meals?

Are guinea pigs better served as pets or meals?  This is one question I never thought I would have the opportunity to answer.  

It was a sunny Tuesday here in Ecuador and the loan officers and I were headed to go meet with a Kiva borrower to discuss how her business of raising chickens was doing.  Along the way, my stomach began to growl.  I expressed to the loan officers that I was hungry and they asked me what I wanted to eat.  I told them that I wanted to try more of the local food in Ecuador.  They immediately smiled and said had the same idea - cuy.  For those of you who don't know what "cuy" is, it's guinea pig.  

Growing up in the US as a child, I had several pet guinea pigs at one point in my life.  They were my first pets before my parents allowed me to get a dog, and I bought them many toys.  They were held in a cage very similar to the one pictured below.


If you showed me the guinea pigs pictured above before this Tuesday, I most likely would have said, "What cute pets you have!".  Now, I would probably tell you "I'm ready for my lunch".  

After my colleagues expressed how delicious the cuy was, it was hard to turn it down.  We did however, have to wait two 2 hours for the cuy to be prepared so we ordered it and then came back.  My hunger had to hold off for another two hours.

At last, we arrived back at the restaurant to devour our cuy.  After giving it a taste, I'd describe the skin as extremely delicous and crispy.  I will unequivocally be back for more cuy in the future.


My experience of trying Ecuador's local delicacy, cuy, was one of many cultural experiences that I have enjoyed while being a Kiva Fellow in FODEMI.  I've learned that one should never hold back in new experiences because those are usually the most enjoyable in the end.  As a Kiva Fellow, it is necessary to let go of all fears and dive right into the culture, no matter how nervous it makes you feel.  

When a new opportunity presents itself, move quickly and attack. No one likes to get "burned"; ask this guy.

About the author

Cassandra Salcedo

Born and raised in New Jersey to immigrant parents from the Philippines, Cassandra grew up as a first generation American with the mentality that each person should have an opportunity to improve his or her life. Cassandra's desire for experiencing different cultures was sparked during a semester abroad in Spain. Since then, she has traveled to more than 20 countries and has no intent to stop. She received her BA in Accounting with minors in Spanish and Business Information Systems from Lehigh University. After graduation, she moved to New York City where she began her career in KPMG's Audit Financial Services practice. After an arduous first year, she decided to spend three weeks volunteering at a childcare facility in South Africa serving impoverished children, many of whom lost their parents to HIV/AIDS and violence. This experience propelled her to give back in her local community. She is a “Big Sister” to a child from the Dominican Republic and serves on a Manhattan high school advisory board that aims to help its immigrant student base realize their fullest potential and gain access to higher education. The combination of these life experiences sparked Cassandra’s interest in microfinance and international development. She strongly believes that access to basic financial services can transform the lives of individuals, as well as have a positive impact on the broader community. Cassandra is eager to apply the skills she has learned, along with her intense passion to help others while she works at microfinance institutions in both Ecuador and Peru.