The guinea pig in the picture above is named Winston. He’s one of the five guinea pigs my girlfriend and I own. Well, they were hers when we started dating, so I kind of adopted them and they’re also mine now. I mean, it’s not like we were together, she asked if we wanted to get a pet and I said, “What do you say we get half a dozen rodents?” But anyway, they’re ours now and I like ’em.
When you tell someone you have guinea pigs, there are a few stock reactions. Some people think it’s cute. Others think it’s weird. Some people confuse them for hamster or gerbils, which they are not. They’re much bigger. Think of a rat wearing a fur coat.
One common reaction stands out, however: a select group will point out a bit of guinea pig trivia that both my girlfriend and I are well aware of at this point:
“Did you know they eat those things in Peru?”
Now this is true: guinea pigs are considered a delicacy in Peru. And my answer is always the same: “Yes, I know that.” Countless people have reminded me of that fact.
Here’s a better question: why in the fuck would you tell me?
Is this supposed to enlighten me and change the way I look at guinea pig ownership? What do you want me to do now, eat them? “Wait, they do? So you’re saying I’ve had a perfectly good snack right in front of me all along and I didn’t know it?!? Well fuck turkey, I know what we’re having next Thanksgiving!”
Do you expect me to throw a backyard barbecue with my previously beloved household pets roasting on a spit? “Grab some potato salad and make sure you slice off a big chunk of Sprinkles over there. He’s the horrified cooked rodent with an apple stuck in his mouth.”
I guess I don’t understand the idea of pointing out to someone who owns a type of animal where they eat that animal. You wouldn’t say that to a dog owner. “What an adorable golden retriever! Just don’t take her to China, Indonesia, Korea, the Phillipines, Mexico, Polynesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Arctic and Antarctic, and two cantons in Switzerland. Because, y’know….they eat dog there.” (Yes, I Googled it. That’s how horrible this whole issue is. It caused me to Google “where do people eat dog.” See what you’ve done, People Who Bring Up That They Eat Guinea Pigs in Peru?)
Here’s the kicker: one of our pigs had a medical problem that required surgery so we had to take him to a specialist. Now, you’d think a surgeon that specializes in this type of animal would be sensitive to some of the more peculiar aspects of owning this rather peculiar type of animal. But sure enough, at one point in the examination she says:
“Did you know they eat these in Peru?”
Coming from a layperson to a guinea pig owner, that’s a weird observation. But coming from a veterinarian? It’s like she’s presenting it as an alternative to surgery. “We could go get the bladder stone. BUT….and I’m just brainstorming here…have you ever had one on a Kaiser roll with mustard? To. Die. For. Throwing that out there. It’s much less expensive. We’ll even do the grilling, no charge.”
So to answer anyone who asks: yes, I know they eat guinea pigs in Peru. No, we’re not going to eat ours. And if you’re a Peruvian pig poacher looking to buy them off us….well, how much ya got?