people in the Andean region have continued raising guinea pigs for meat even after contact with Europeans who brought regular pigs. Meanwhile, Europeans and Asians have continued raising pigs despite being in contact with the Andes and their guinea pigs.
Is this a matter of taste and sticking to tradition, let’s say on the part of the Andean people? Or are regular pigs not suited to the Andes? Or is the cost of meat from both sources essentially the same? Or how do they compare?
I was in Peru last March/April and they were more of a delicacy. There were few places that served them and there just wasn’t that much meat on them (and the meat was more like the dark meat of a chicken). I only ate meat off of the back, I couldn’t eat the head or any other parts.
I wouldn’t call guinea pigs a delicaybut of course they are not staples.The problem is that despite their good taste, they carry little meat for their size and also that in the traditional presentation they are "difficult to eat for many foreigners, particularly from those places where they are kept as pets.
New breeds have been developed recently that are meatierso that you can eat legs at thighs without excessive use of the hands.
The skin is delicious and the taste goes into the bones.
So, to answer the OP, the don’t compare well to pigs as sources of meat, but on the other hand they reproduce like horny catholic xerox machines with iregular periods, they can be kept in small places and are now more accepted outside the Andes. People form the coast with money considered GPs poor-people’s food that only your maid would eat, but now it’s crossed the social barrier with more meat and better presentation.
A friend of mine took a picture of a roasted guinea pig she was served in Peru. As part of the preparation, they took a big green pepper, cut the blunt end off and made a little clown hat for the cavy to wear. The pointy end was shoved up the poor creature’s butt. They don’t just kill and cook it, they humiliate it as well.
I imagine it has about as much meat as pheasant. Not much, but tasty.
I am not a dietitian, and I’ve never actually eaten a guinea pig. But I mentally compare eating guinea pigs to eating rabbits. Both can be cute and cuddly pets, but both are capable of being delicious. I’ve eaten rabbit and it was pretty good. Guinea pigs are similar to rabbits (in appearance and potential meat-bearing-ness) so it’s probably similarly good… but not very filling. I’m not sure how fatty guinea pigs are, but I know rabbits are so lean that eating an exclusively-rabbit-meat-diet will lead to starvation. I’m pretty sure this is not a problem when eating regular pork-pigs, as pigs have better-balanced fat deposits.
I’ve only known Guinea Pigs as pets thus far, but I believe they’re a bit more fatty than rabbits - all they do is sit and eat, with the occasional excited scamper, whereas rabbits are built for speed. Not that innate athleticism necessarily has an absolute bearing on body fat accumulation, but here, I think it probably does. Rabbits are lean, muscular runners. Guinea Pigs are couch potatoes.
Otherwise, I expect the comparison is a fairly good one though.
I suspect there’d be some Outrage, but I don’t know if it would violate any laws.
They sell 'em in the frozen section of my local Ethnic Grocery Store in Chicago, though. Only $29.99 for a single frozen guinea pig. Sorry…coy. This is a store which often has ground beef for $1.39 and fresh chicken leg quarters for 85¢/lb, so it’s muy caro.
Interestingly guinea pigs are called pigs precisely because they fulfilled the function that pigs did on board ship. No, not that, you dirty buggers, but as portable livestock who would eat the ship’s table scraps and not take up too much room. This was on the Pacific coast of the Americas, of course, other areas used pigs or goats.
I’ve had both and I would say that there is some similarity, but that the rabbit’s muscles are much larger and longer. The rabbit, although bred for eating, was a bit gamier too. I should note that I’ve only eaten guinea pig in Peru at a pretty nice restaurant (Tradición Arequipeña) and rabbit aka Hassenpfeffer at a local Twin Cities German restaurant called the Black Forest.
Unless you’re eating the whole guinea pig, including the brains and the rest of the offal, I just couldn’t see it being a meal. And if you get a chance, watch the Globe Trekker episode where they go to Peru. The host orders it but just couldn’t bear to eat it as it’s served de-furred and whole. She brings it over to another table and the locals feast on it and one woman admits that the head is her favorite part.