11 – Auf Wiedersehen, Pets


We’re introducing a new way of eating at the Smoked Sausage today. And to help us, we have a guest chef for this week only: Luis Romero, from Lima in Peru. Why? Because this week, we are serving guinea pig – three ways. But that isn’t all. And in fact, that isn’t the main story. Because what we are doing is giving our customers a bit of extra choice, as follows:

You know how when you go to some restaurants, if you want to order fish, then you are taken to a fish tank and asked to select which fish you want? Well, that’s what we are doing. Not with fish of course, but with the guinea pigs.

Yes, we have set aside a decent size cage at one end of our restaurant, where the guinea pigs will be able to run around, eat their dandelion leaves and carrots and generally have a nice time. (And they do make cute, squeaking noises). But when a customer wants to order our guinea pig dish, then they will be guided to the cage and they will select which one they want to eat. Plenty of choice too: we’ve got Abyssinian guinea pigs, Himalayan, Sheltie and, of course, short-haired. And all raised within 20 miles of the Sausage. It’s the ultimate provenance.

Pretty nifty, eh.

Although, as you might guess, it has got the animal rights activists and the Daily Mail up in arms. We’ve already appeared under headlines such as “You Inhuman Guinea Pig!” and “Christoffel’s Crazy Cavy Cookshop!” as well the more predictable, “Auf Wiedersehen, Pets”.

But I don’t know why. As I said, it is common for restaurants serving fish to do this sort of thing. And the Peruvians do it all the time: the cavies run around their homes and when they want one for the pot – bang – they are just swept up and in they go. Neither does it seem to be the guinea pig per se which the activists/national rags are complaining about (although a few of them clearly don’t like the idea that we are eating what they only perceive as pets).

And it’s about time that a restaurant did something like this if you ask me. So many people seem to agree these days that we as carnivores must know more about where our dinners are coming from and how the meat reaches our plates. It’s not as if you have cows that kill themselves or chickens which wring their own necks. So whilst we obviously couldn’t ask customers to select their own cow for their meal (not because I wouldn’t do that, it just isn’t practical in a kitchen garden), downsizing it to a guinea pig is an easy and lucid way to show the implications of their decision making to the diners. Hell, the animal rights folk should be applauding me because I am presenting so clearly what they perceive as barbarism. If it is then people won’t do it.

So we’ll see. Let’s let the customer decide. If they want to eat guinea pig then they can select it – literally – and all will be well.

And it is bloody delicious, by the way. Even if I do say so myself.