September 16, 2013
Would You Eat Guinea Pig?
By David Draper
I consider myself a fairly adventurous eater and will try most anything, short of insects. Insects I just can’t do. But most other proteins I’m usually game for tasting, at least once, and that includes guinea pig. You and I know them as fuzzy little pets—in fact, I had a couple as a kid named Odie and Odie II—but in some South American countries guinea pigs, called cuyes, are a delicacy. I remember seeing them run across the road in Argentina, and our driver said he had eaten them and thought they were delicious. Had I been in Minneapolis a couple of weeks ago, I might even have tried them from a street vendor there. Good thing I wasn’t, as apparently a bad batch of cuyes is being blamed for an outbreak of food poisoning.
“At least 81 people fell ill from suspected salmonella poisoning after eating guinea pig meat and other foods from a vendor at a Minneapolis street festival earlier this month, health officials said.
The vendor had a city permit but sold unapproved food and handled it improperly, according to a city spokesman.
The outbreak happened at the Ecuadorean Independence Day celebration at the New York Plaza Produce grocery, 1304 E. Lake St., on Aug. 11. Scores of people went to Hennepin County Medical Center and Children’s Hospital of Minneapolis with severe gastrointestinal symptoms after eating the tainted food.
Bill Belknap, a spokesman for Hennepin County Public Health, said some of those who fell ill ate a traditional Ecuadorean dish that contained guinea pig, but others who didn’t eat that dish also were sickened. The Minnesota Department of Health said a number of them tested positive for salmonella. Everyone who fell ill was treated and released.”
Despite this health scare, would you try guinea pig? What strange foods are off limits for you?