Professional chefs are known for their willingness to experiment with foods that most of us don’t want to try. British chef Gordon Ramsay has a reputation for his amazing restaurants around the world, as well as his fiery temper and potty mouth.
The popular chef serves all kinds of things in his restaurants, including lots of different kinds of meat on the menu.
But you won’t find one of the chef’s personal favorites — guinea pig.
“You do not know what you’re missing,” said Ramsay. “I’m telling you now, delicious.”
He likens the taste to a suckling pig.
But he also says you won’t be seeing guinea pig anywhere in one of his restaurants — at least not in the United States where most people think of guinea pigs as pets.
“I can’t feature roasted guinea pig on my menus here in the US,” said Ramsay. “I would be taken down.”
But the chef has been shown preparing it on camera, and even tasting a bite.
Of course, that happened while he was filming in Peru where guinea pig is commonly eaten and no one would bat an eye at consuming this furry house pet.
Guinea pig is a popular food throughout much of South America, including Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. There, guinea pigs are usually grilled or fried. Of course, one thing that might put off delicate diners is that they’re usually left intact, including heads, arms, and legs. But those who don’t let that deter them say the animal is so delicious they often eat the entire thing from top to bottom.
Believe it or not, some experts are pushing guinea pig as a cheaper and more economical option to cattle.
“[Conservationists] were encouraging people to switch from cattle to guinea pigs,” said Matt Miller, a science writer with The Nature Conservancy. “Guinea pigs don’t require the land that cattle do. They can be kept in backyards, or in your home. They’re docile and easy to raise.”
Amazingly, the popularity of the rodents is climbing every year, but that’s due more to the guinea pig’s status as a delicacy than its lessened impact on the environment.
For the most part, people seem to think that Americans won’t entertain the idea of eating the animals considered friends.
“There’s a clear cultural prejudice against eating guinea pigs and rodents in general in the United States,” Miller says. “But finding ways to reduce our carbon footprint is a good idea, and so is eating small livestock, like guinea pigs.”
Ramsay’s trip to Peru is part of filming for his new show Uncharted, which he says is less about cooking and more about venturing into the “world of food.”
The show takes him all over the world to try local dishes. One episode shows him taking a shot of liquor containing a preserved gecko, which he said significantly changed the flavor.
Geckos or guinea pigs are not likely to be on any menu in the U.S. any time soon. Until then, we’ll have to experience those tastes and textures through shows like Uncharted.
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