Like the American Civil war, the Beatles vs. the Rolling Stones or which Star Wars movie is the best*, the mysterious origin of ceviche has been the source of heated debate and family blow-ups around the dinner table for years.
To the uninitiated, a relatively simple-sounding dish of raw fish topped with citrus, herbs and spices may not seem like such a divisive topic, but ceviche is not only at the centre of pacific coast South American culture—it’s also a favourite topic of debate among foodies.
As the story goes, out in the waters off of South America, somewhere between Peru and Ecuador, conquistadors found that the small potent wild lime they used to fight off scurvy was also able to “cure” raw fish. In fact, when mixed with onions and chilies, it made for quite the feast indeed.
“The ceviche of the Galapagos is simple and elegant, but it can be difficult to master the fine balance between sour, sweet, salty, and spicy.”
Of course, that’s just one story. One popular school of thought holds that the dish owes its true origins to South America’s native populations, and predates the conquistador’s arrival. In fact, some accounts have ceviche—or at least a similar dish that served as its predecessor—originating with the Moche coastal civilization nearly 2,000 years ago! Others note that the Inca used a similar process to marinate fish in a fermented beverage and only switched to citrus fruit when it arrived with the Spanish.
While its exact origin remains a mystery, and a particularly loaded topic of dinner conversation, today one truth is accepted by all: ceviche thrives on citrus. Perfect, then, that in the Galapagos ceviche is considered a local delicacy. Surrounded by miles of ocean and the dry winds of the Andes, the Galapagos produce a potent lime that grows off the coast. The ceviche of the Galapagos is simple and elegant, but it can be difficult to master the fine balance between sour, sweet, salty, and spicy. Try for yourself with this simple but delicious, complete with a unique Galapagos touch—popcorn!
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A Recipe for Ceviche
1 pound snapper fillets
12 lemons, juiced
1 large diced onion
2 finely chopped red chilies
3 Tbsp chopped coriander
1/2 cup popped corn
Salt and pepper
Place the fish into a large glass bowl and pour the lemon juice over the fish. Stir in the onion, chilies and seasonings. Leave in the refrigerator for 4 hours and serve chilled with popped corn on side.
*The Empire Strike Back, obviously.