Eating in Ecuador and Peru was occasionally a challenge, as the culinary traditions of both countries focus heavily on meat. The national dish of Peru is “cuy chactado,” or fried guinea pig. Most Peruanos and Ecuadorianos who live in the highlands raise guinea pigs in pens beneath their homes in order to have a ready supply of this delicacy, which is served for special occasions and on holidays. In one such home I picked up one of the fuzzy little creatures, which promptly crawled onto my shoulder and nuzzled my ear. After that, even if I hadn’t been a vegetarian, the idea of eating guinea pig would have been appalling, however I’m sure Hindus feel the same way about Americans who eat beef, so I make no judgments.
Fortunately, I discovered plenty of vegetarian choices, as well as seafood options, which I will eat if absolutely necessary: Continue reading