We are fortunate to have some interesting and talented people living and working in Dallas. I obviously obsess over over chefs , artists and musicians, as we should. One of my very favorite people in Dallas is something of an artist in her own right. Paula Lambert is many things. She is a cheese-maker (owner of Mozarella Company in Deep Ellum), an artist and has a voracious appetite for travel. I say artist because sh has this innate ability to create something absolutely beautiful out of practically nothing. And her travels are stuff of legend. And her cheese makes its way around the world, winning many awards along the way.
I once told Ms. Lambert that I would be happy if I had half her air miles. She looked at me and smiled, “what air miles”? What I figured would be millions of miles racked up each year are actually used as quickly as they accumulate. And good for her.
It is exciting to travel vicariously through Lambert. If you are not following her on Facebook, you are missing a wonderful opportunity to learn about cultures from across the globe, and experience her unabashed palate as she dines at the most interesting restaurants.
Yesterday we spotted Lambert in Lamay, Cusco, Peru. I had already decided that Peruvian cuisine would be a large focus for myself in 2015, and even have a planned trip in the wait. But the photo she shared yesterday made me smile in a big way. She dined on cuy, or guinea pig.
Guinea pigs were originally domesticated for their meat in the Andes. Traditionally, the animal was reserved for ceremonial meals by indigenous people in the Andean highlands, but since the 1960s, it has become more socially acceptable for consumption by all people. It continues to be a major part of the diet in Peru and Bolivia, particularly in the Andes Mountains highlands; it is also eaten in some areas of Ecuador (mainly in the Sierra) and Colombia. Guinea pig meat is high in protein and low in fat and cholesterol, and is described as being similar to rabbit and the dark meat of chicken. The animal may be served fried (chactado or frito), broiled (asado), or roasted (al horno), and in urban restaurants may also be served in a casserole or a fricassee.
The Peruvian town of Churin has an annual festival which involves dressing guinea pigs in elaborate costumes for a competition. The lucky winner of the competition is spared fro the plate, but the remaining are taken down in high fashion, and enjoyed at the evening’s meal.
There have been movements to expand cuy into other countries such as Japan, and even the United States. Perhaps soon we will find cuy on our own dinner plate.