Peruvians develop super-tasty guinea pig

Scuttling soon to a plate near you

Scientists at Peru's La Molina National University reckon they have developed a world-beating culinary experience - the plumper, tastier "Peruvian Breed" guinea pig, AP reports.

The average Peruvian guinea pig weighs in at best at a modest one-and-a-half pounds and offers the locals a lean, sinewy eating experience. The new überpig, by contrast, tips the scales at a whopping two-and-a-half pounds packing plenty of low-fat, low-cholesterol meat. It took 30 years to develop and the team behind the advance reckons that it might sell the consumption of the animal to westerners who are traditionally averse to eating household pets. Gloria Palacios, director of La Molina National University's "project to promote guinea pig exports", enthused: "I think if they become familiar with the cuisine, maybe suddenly they'll give in and be tempted to try it. It is really delicious."

Those keen to taste-test the Peruvian Breed might be interested to know that it reportedly tastes like rabbit. The fact that it does not taste like chicken - as allegedly does every exotic animal from snake to capybara - must come as an immense relief to the locals. Peruvians get through 65m guinea pigs a year, which must make a welcome change from, er, chicken. The animal has a long history in Peru as sacred animal and menu item. It is reckoned to have been domesticated 2,500 years ago and its popularity survived Spanish efforts to stamp out the indigenous rodent. Indeed, it is still used by healers who use the furry diagnostic device to pinpoint patients' ills - as well as gracing dinner tables across the country.

La Molina National University is already exporting 1,000 Peruvian Breed guinea pigs per month to the US, Japan and Europe. Most end up delighting the taste buds of America's Peruvian expat community. ®

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