Mmmm, Like a Small Deer You Say?

Our friends Erick and Gloria surprised us last night by whisking us off to Cobán and taking us to quite a nice restaurant. Up until now, our dining in Cobán had been limited to the food court at the mall where we do most of our grocery shopping. I wanted to try something I had never tried before and so "Tepezcuintle" jumped off the menu and onto my plate.

Erick explains to me that this is a wild animal. "Like the deer?" I ask. "Yes, but smaller" he answers. "Is it like a big rat?" wondering if he is describing a opossum. "No, it's not like that. It eats fallen fruit - avocados, zapote, etc. It's meat is the best wild meat in Guatemala." "So, like a small deer then?" "Yes." Erick orders the same. "They have some at the little zoo in Chamche, I'll take you there to see one some time."

It was in fact quite delicious, tenderized no doubt by the supple fat that comprised 40% of the small serving. It was in a nice gravy and had been roasted and stewed - like beef. I had to share a small piece with Amber. She liked it too.

So, now, it's 4:30 AM and I'm beginning to wonder why I had that cup and a half of coffee at 10 PM. I decided to get up and see if I can burn some of this energy off and why not, look up this mysterious beast online.
"The Paca (Agouti paca), also known as the Spotted Paca, is a large rodent found in tropical and sub-tropical America, . . . It is called paca in most of its range, but tepezcuintle in Mexico and Guatemala." Wikipedia

To explore the relationship between the ingestion of Agouti paca (AP) and human leptospirosis in Guyana, 19 febrile men who said they had hunted and eaten A. paca . . . Those found positive for anti-Leptospira IgM . . . serovars from three pathogenic species of Leptospira . . . a skin rash; lymphadenopathy; abnormal urine sediment . . . Annals of Tropical Medicine and Parasitology

They live in my parents’ farm. I’ve shown these two to a couple of friends and they see them, with scorn, as big rats (the mom is about 60cm long and must weigh around 10kg)... I think they are absolutely great. jpablo's blog
Now, I know I'm making a big deal about this; people eat porcupine and rabbit all the time right? I grew up eating meat according to the Levitical laws (cloven hoof, chews cud, though not the official kosher bloodletting) so even eating a strip of bacon or shrimp is strange to me.

Cute, eh?

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Rodentia
Family: Dasyproctidae
Genus: Agouti
Species: A. paca

Oh, and Rabbit Rabbit everyone.


GrandmaDeb said...

Remember at Tamahu when I was showing Blaise that dirty ratty looking animal in a cage...and asking him if he wanted to feed the "cute animal" his peanut...and I was killing myself laughing??? That is what I was picturing you eating...and I was killing myself laughing again! I don't think it is the same type of animal...cause this one is really cute...and clean. Bon Appetit!

dawn said...

That really didn't bode well with my stomach. I can't imagine eating something like that. Once, Sirdar ordered Alligator (in Red Deer, no less) and I had a bite. He liked it, thought it tastes like chicken. I thought 'you can take the alligator out of the swamp, but you can't take the swamp out of the alligator'. I too grew up on the diet you did, so eating other things is really yucky for me.

Sirdar said...

They eat rats in other parts of the world so eating this little guy is probably pretty normal for the people there. At least you ate it before you looked it up :-)