Last update: Tue Jun 26 2007 17:45:35

Peruvians pig-out

The inhabitants of the Peruvian town of Churin have been holding a festival for their favourite animal - the humble guinea pig.

The ceremony is not a bizarre version of Crufts, but a celebration to show how tasty the little critters are.

Contestants at the festival cook up their guinea pigs in a variety of ways and then dress them in costumes to impress the judges.

Connoisseurs of guinea pig liken the taste to that of rabbit. The meat is high in protein and low in fat.

Festival visitor Juan Rojas said: "Guinea pig meat is very nourishing and contains lots of vitamins and other things."

According to estimates, Peruvians eat almost 65 million guinea pigs a year.

Festival organiser Othmar Rabitson said: "We are very happy because the festival has grown and the dishes are even better.

"We have been pleasantly surprised with the new dishes like the guinea pig with corn and the guinea pig ceviche - they are very good."

The guinea pig has been an important symbol in Peru since the time of the Incas.

Some churches in Lima and Cusco still display Indian depictions of the Last Supper with Jesus and the 12 disciples eating roasted guinea pig.

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