Given the various traumatic dining experiences that he has endured over the course of Hell’s Kitchen, Kitchen Nightmares and other TV appearances, it’s safe to assume that Gordon Ramsay has a fairly strong stomach. You can’t make a living attempting to resuscitate some of the worst kitchens on the planet unless you’re prepared to eat pretty much anything. That being said, the celebrity chef’s latest recommendation is certain to raise a few eyebrows.
Commenting on the set of his latest show, “Uncharted”, Ramsay revealed that he has developed a penchant for an unlikely furry ingredient. While exploring the culinary wonders of Peru, Ramsay allegedly realised that, despite what pet shops and petting zoos might tell us, guinea pigs are in fact “delicious”.
Speaking somewhat wistfully, Ramsay admitted that “I can’t feature roasted guinea pig on my menus here in the US. I would be taken down.” However, he also revealed that, “You do not know what you’re missing. I am telling you now, delicious,” going on to add that the flavour was very much “like a suckling pig.”
Although Ramsay’s revelation might stun a few furry pet owners, it will come as no surprise to the people of Peru.
Guinea pig has actually been a revered delicacy for centuries, where it is locally referred to as “cuy”. In fact, recent years have seen guinea pig transformed from a rarity into a profitable business for Peruvian farmers.
In an interview with the BBC, regional director of “World Neighbours” Lionel Vigil revealed how the food has grown in popularity, stating, "The Incas have eaten cuy for centuries, but in the past it was only farmers in the Andes still eating them. When they migrated to Lima they carried on, and little by little other Peruvians from different backgrounds started to get a taste for it and restaurants started to buy guinea pigs.”
Typically served whole, guinea pigs are particularly prized for their flavour, low fat and high protein content. Though they are often skewered and grilled, different recipes call for them to be fried, roasted and even diced.
It has also been suggested that they could be comparatively beneficial for the environment. As Matt Miller explained in an interview with NPR, “Guinea pigs don’t require the land that cattle do. They can be kept in backyards, or in your home. They’re docile and easy to raise. There’s a clear cultural prejudice against eating guinea pigs, and rodents in general, in the United States. But finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint is a good idea, and so is eating small livestock, like guinea pigs.”
It can be easy for anyone to turn their nose up at an unfamiliar ingredient. However, if the testimony of Ramsay, the scientific community, and the entire nation of Peru are to be believed, we could be missing out on something special. Maybe there’s more to the hutch than meets the eye.