Learn to Cook Guinea Pigs at Del Campo

Chef Victor Albisu tackles Peruvian cuy during a cooking class.

Don’t feel bad about cooking this little guy. Guinea pigs are a staple in Peru. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Those who remember their childhood guinea pigs fondly may want to sit this one out. Chef Victor Albisu, fresh off a trip to Peru with pals Mike Isabella and Spike Mendelsohn, will prepare the traditional street food cuy, or guinea pig, during a cooking class at Del Campo this Saturday.

Before you get upset over someone cooking Fluffy, don’t worry: Albisu didn’t raid the nearest Petco. The culinary-grade rodents were acquired through a specialty purveyor in New York. In Peru, guinea pigs are farmed for their protein and used as an inexpensive way to feed a population suffering from malnutrition. The chefs experienced the food’s influence first-hand on their trip, which was part of an outreach program with the poverty-ending organization Care International. Still, cuy isn’t just a chicken substitute. As with most street fare, chefs on the higher end of the spectrum can’t help but put their own twists on it; Albisu recalls eating confit guinea pig in a Lima restaurant.

Those who attend the class will see cuy prepared in the traditional style: marinated overnight in cumin, citrus, olive oil, and garlic, and slow-fried. Unlike the other demo dishes, such as ceviche, the point is less about eating and more about talking to guests about how the guinea pigs have influenced Peruvian culture and culinary traditions. That being said, if you want to take a taste, the chef isn’t opposed.

“It tastes like the proverbial chicken, with a little pork quality to it,” says Albisu.

A few spots are currently left, so call the restaurant for reservations ($98 per person).

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.