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Guinea Pig, Tripe and Head: Daring to Try Something New

Food Lovers — By Samya Sattar on May 4, 2009 at 8:10 am

Do you ever get the feeling that life is passing you by? That you’re weighed down by a sense of ennui? That you’re not really living?

Well, snap out of it. Do something new. It’s never too late to try something for the first time.

Like guinea pig. In Peru. It’s their national delicacy. You could get it at Paititi, a lovely little restaurant in Cusco. In Peru, they call guinea pig cuy, pronounced quee. When I ordered it, it arrived at the table, whole, on its back, eyes shut tight and its little paws clenched. No joke. I literally closed my eyes and cut a little piece off its bony body. And somehow put it in my mouth. And chewed. Hmm. Tastes like chicken. Cool. I like chicken. Okay, so it wasn’t the best dish I ever had, but hey, I was living.

If you don’t want to go all the way to Peru to do all that living, how about trying something new in New York? You know the TV chef Mario Batali? The guy with with the red hair and orange clogs? His restaurant Babbo serves Warm Tripe Alla Parmigiana, Pig Food Milanese, and Testa with Pickled Pearls and Thyme Vinaigrette. Beef tripe is usually made from the first three chambers of the cow’s stomach, but if you use your imagination, it can look like pasta. Pig Foot – well, that’s self explanatory. And I’m not sure what Testa is, but I think it’s the head of something. I ate cow’s brains when I was a kid. The texture is … well, it’s different. If you try even one of these items, no one can fault you for being boring.

You want to be adventurous without eating large rats or strange organs, you say? You want to try something new, but you want it to be a recognizable, palatable animal part? Fear not. I have just the thing for you. “Extremely hot pepper” at Old Mandarin Islamic Restaurant in San Francisco is certain to give you the kick you need. It’s a combination of egg and beef, and, you guessed it, extremely hot pepper. Really, really, ridiculously hot pepper. Pair it with the very refreshing scallion and bean curd salad and get some rice on the side, and you are good to go.

Get out there and taste something different. You’ll be happier for it. At least, that’s the idea.

Photo courtesy of Phillie Casablanca/Creative Commons
Tags: Babbo, Cusco, guinea pig, nile foodies, Old Mandarin Islamic, Peru, San Francisco, tripe

    4 Comments

  • This pictures is really…ummmm, graphic and grossing me out! Really great post though, I think I need to be more open to ‘food’ from different cultures.

  • Alexi says:

    This is fantastic. I want to walk into a pet store, buy a dozen guinea pigs and ask the saleswoman if she can recommend any spices.

  • One of the best parts of travel is exploring new, crazy cuisines. Thanks for sharing some great ones. My best food story is eating fried mole head in West Africa.

  • Fried. Mole. Head. Not three words I would expect to find in one sentence, let alone a sentence describing a meal. Not sure how I feel about that…

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