6 August 2017
The country of Peru is rich in diversity- both in its’ regions and its’ people. Over the years, European immigrants, Asians, and Africans have all left their mark in the country. A sample of this diversity can be seen in the nation’s cuisine, which through a myriad of ingredients and colors has captured the taste buds of many around the world.
Peruvian food is gaining international recognition. Proof of this can be found when the country was recognized in the 2014 World Travel Awards; where Peru, for the third consecutive time, was mentioned as “best culinary destination in the world.” Inside the array of delicious, delectable Peruvian cuisine, we find ceviche. On hot, summer weekends, one will inevitably encounter this fresh dish on many a Peruvian table. However, few people know the history of this succulent dish.
There are several theories that attempt to explain the origin and name of ceviche. Some claim that the culture “Moche” prepared this dish more than two-thousand years ago. Instead of using lemon, which was not introduced until the Spaniards arrived, they used a fruit called tumbo to marinate the fish.
Others, like Juan Jose Vega, say the origin of ceviche comes from the Arabic word, “Sibech” which is a name used by the Moorish who came with Francisco Pizarro to refer to acidic food. On the other hand, historian Javier Pulgar Vidal claims that the name of this dish comes from the Quechua word, “Siwichi,” which translates into Spanish as “fresh fish.” The distortion of the word would have occurred after the arrival of the Spaniards.
Ceviche is full of aphrodisiacs often called “rising dead” by the imaginations of Peruvian society. The word “cebo,” meaning bait, refers to this aphrodisiac effect that allows you “to catch the person of your wishes.”
Whatever the true answer is, the fact remains that the basic ingredients that make up ceviche are: fresh fish, lemon, onion, yellow pepper, hot pepper, and garlic. One can find many different recipes for ceviche all over Peru, and they all vary depending on the creativity of the cook.
This dish is so important and famous in Peru that has been declared the “Cultural Heritage of the Nation” and every June 28th marks the International Day of ceviche throughout the country.