The Joy of Ceviche

I consider myself a lover of food. It runs in the genes. The Gabisons are known for their foodie ways which accounts for our tendency towards chubbiness and food comas. Oh wait, that’s usually just me and Jonathan. 🙂

As a little girl, I remember my grandfather sitting at the table with an array of condiments in his reach. He was constantly looking for and working on the perfect bite of food. Sometimes it meant a little bit of olive oil or chopped parsley or perhaps some harissa (a North African spice paste which is usually on the fiery side), he was ready to make the food taste exactly as he wanted.

This discerning palate and love of delectable morsels is clearly present among his offspring. My cousin Moran is a Cordon-Bleu certified chef. She is a wealth of culinary information. My aunt Liora bakes the most wonderful cakes, as well as, lots of savory favorites. My father can grill the most sumptuous steak. And I just love to cook and then eat my fabulous creations.

Back to Peru. Jonathan and I spent a few days in Lima before continuing on to our Amazonian adventure. A friend of ours had spent some time in Lima and was particularly impressed with a certain cebicheria called La Mar. [Camille, I think you actually said that you were in love with the place, but I didn’t want to put words in your mouth!]

A cebicheria is a restaurant that makes ceviche. Mmmm…ceviche.

Ceviche is a gift from the gods. It originated in Peru, but variations can be found throughout South and Central America. It is the marriage of an array of ingredients, usually fish or seafood, onions and cilantro in some form of citrus juice.  The seafood is essentially cooked by the citrus, but maintains a very special texture. It’s delicious.

My admiration for all things ceviche led to our arrival at La Mar. I enjoyed our meal so much that I daydreamed about it for days afterwards. Recounting the flavors and textures of each of the dishes in my mouth and my mind, I understand why Camille was so smitten with the place.

First, they gave us complimentary chips and sauces. The chips were made from taro, plantains and yucca. The sauces went from mild to spicy. It was a great way to start a meal.

The next item we ordered was a traditional Peruvian dish called tiradito, which is reminiscent of carpaccio or sashimi. Thin slices of raw fish are topped with a spicy sauce. The type we ordered was made with tuna and marinated in a traditional ceviche marinade with added tamarind flavor. Very tasty and also well-plated. The colors were stunning. (I don’t have a picture of that one.)

Next came the degustacion, which was basically 5 different types of ceviche. Each one tasted so unique and filled me with ideas for my own homemade ceviche.

Let’s start with the ceviche all the way on the other side of the picture. It was a classic ceviche made with a white fish, possibly hamachi, and the traditional leche de tigre (tiger milk) marinade. The next one is the mixed ceviche, which was similar to the first except it had both fish and seafood. The third ceviche was called chalaco and was spicier than the others. The sauce was different than the first two. It seemed like it was made with tomatoes and was a bit thicker in consistency. The chalaco also featured squid.

The fourth ceviche on the platter is the nikei. It was slightly sweet in flavor and featured pieces of tuna. It was our least favorite, but it was still tasty.

The final ceviche was the chifa chifa, which was my favorite of the bunch. It had a mixture of fish and seafood and incorporated more traditional Asian flavors, obvious in its use of sesame oil. Very tasty and inspirational for my own cooking.

It was a wonderland of ceviche. I was impressed.

For the main meal, Jonathan and I ordered a dish called plancha anticuchera.

It was a grilled dish consisting of octopus and squid cooked in a special sauce and tossed with Peruvian corn and potatoes. The taste was very special and the texture of the octopus was amazing. Not at all chewy! I loved this dish.

Can you tell?

(Can you say foodgasm??)

The only drawback of this culinary dreamscape was the price. It was expensive and according to what we later discovered, ceviche in Peru is, for the most part, absolutely delicious, whether it’s in a small reasonable-priced cebicheria or a massive, expensive chain like la mar.

I heard that the reason the seafood is so fantastic is because of a certain ocean current that travels from northern California down to the Peruvian coastline. Apparently, the current creates the perfect environment for delicious seafood.

I will leave it at that for today.



2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Milla on September 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    I love that you wrote this huge entry about food. I could most certaintly do the same thing. I am a hardcore foodie, and foodgasms are one of my top three favorite feelings in the world. Glad you liked La Mar! We’ll have to return together some time.

    OH, and those chips. yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    Also, let’s just make a best friend travel show. We would put Anthony Bourdain the shame…. ok, maybe that’d be a tad too difficult… but at least we’d be way better than that bald guy who eats weird food, or Samantha Brown. Travel Channel needs a facelift. We’d be perfect for them.

    ❤ ❤ you


    • Posted by feelandheal on September 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      I’m down! Let’s do it. It would also be cool to see a woman (or in this case women!) who love international food. Giving the travel channel its much-needed facelift. 🙂

      where should we go first??


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