A Double Helping of Capybara

Chef Charlie Otero prepares capybara (ponche) at the restaurant La Comunión in Cartagena.

Chef Charlie Otero prepares capybara (ponche) at the restaurant La Comunión in Cartagena.


My quest for uncovering enjoyable choices of free-range, antibiotic-free meat has often led me to species that remain rare or unheard of in the realm of industrial farming. While I’ve roamed deep into the world of edible rodents–from guinea pigs to nutria to dormice–I had never secured the chance to explore the culinary possibilities of capybara, the world’s largest rodent, until I journeyed to Colombia last year.

For Vice, I test capybara’s viability as an main ingredient of a fine dining experience in Cartagena, where the locals call the meat ponche; and for Roads & Kingdoms, I offer a drink pairing for capybara (also known locally as chigüire) in a Bogota barbecue joint. Take your pick, or go for ’em both!

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About OmnivorousTraveler

Darrin DuFord is a travel writer, mapgazer, and jungle rodent connoisseur. His writing has won numerous awards and has appeared in The San Francisco Chronicle, BBC Travel, Gastronomica, Roads & Kingdoms, Narratively, and Perceptive Travel, among other publications. He is the author of Breakfast for Alligators: Quests, Showdowns and Revelations in the Americas (released in July 2016) and Is There a Hole in the Boat? Tales of Travel in Panama without a Car, silver medalist in the 2007 Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Awards.
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