Eduardo Archetti

Oslo, Norway

I met Sidney in 1971 at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He was as Visiting professor and was giving a course on the Ethnography of the Caribbean. I was a PhD student and had arrived in 1968. 1971 was still a 'radical year' and myself and many of my fellow students were inspired by structuralism and Marxism (the French structuralist version). Sid's course was like recuperating the freedom. He inspired me. He showed that history was important and that anthropology made sense only if we introduced time in our perspectives. His 'materialism' was different and his emphasis on regional research strategies convincing. In a few months I was under his intellectual influence (and he perhaps never realised this). I decided to do field work in Cuba and with my decision I was breaking one non-written law at the Ecole: I was supposed to do my research in Argentina where I was coming from. Many circumstances transformed my plans into an impossible dream. However. Sid make me dreamed in other topics and themes. Many years latter I wrote a book on the culture of Guinea Pigs in Ecuador as food, symbol and a package of complex knowledge. In this work the mind and ideas of Sid are traveling since the first until the last page.

My gift in this day is my favourite recipe.

Roast Guinea-pig

In order to keep what is called the 'gleam' of this dish, it is necessary to marinate it a day ahead. There are several different dressings, But I mention only a few used in recipes for cooking two or three big guinea-pigs (around 800 gramas):

2 red onions, roughly chopped
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
cumin (2 tablespoons)
one teaspoonful of white pepper
2 tablespoonfuls of water
2 tablespoonfuls of oil
annatto as colouring

Mix all the ingredients well and spread them both on the inside and the outside of the animal. Instead of oil, lard with annatto may be used.

A variant of this dressing has been given to me in the community of Guzo. In addition to the ingredients mentioned above, water and oil are replaced with 'chicha de ajora' (germinated maize), which gives a particularly appetiizing taste to the meat.

Before roasting the guinea-pig it is necessary to remove any excess dressing from the previous day to avoid burning the meat. The animal is roasted on charcoal, on a stick, preferably at its extremity, so that it can be turned without burning. The animal is thus spitted on the stick inserted in the back part, the anal region, and exiting from the jaw. Once spitted on the stick, the usual technique is to tie the front feet and stretch the legs. During roasting lard is spread over it to avoid drying out of the meat. The guinea-pig is ready when the skin is almost ready to burst. 

Despite the addition of the dressing and the lard, guinea-pig meat is very light and may then become hard and chewy. Roasted guinea-pig is therefore traditionally eaten with peanut sauce. Among many recipes, this is my favourite:

Peanut Sauce

2 tablespoons of lard
annatto colouring
2 white onions, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic
a pinch of cumin
1 large cup of roasted and ground coffee with peanuts
3 cups of milk

Obviously, roast guinea-pigs has to be served with other things. There are various possibilities, but the most common is to serve it with boiled potatoes and chillies. Coriander is normally chopped over the top of the boiled potatoes. Another popular variation is to serve the meat with 'tostados' (grilled maize), or simply to add potatoes. The guinea-pig is also served up, especially in mestizo communities, with slices of fresh cheese and a few beans.