Love for ceviche: Peru celebrates their famous dish

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Ceviche and a pile of other succulent seafood from Peru
Ceviche and a pile of other succulent seafood from Peru. (Photos by Terra Stanley)

By Terra Stanley
Special for LivinginPeru.com

Ceviche signifies much more than a typical Peruvian dish, and the National Ceviche Day festivities at Invita Peru, a gastronomy fair at Lima’s Mega Plaza Norte, made this evident.

The event included dozens of participating restaurants and sponsors, and while it runs until July 3, today’s celebration in particular revealed an unmistakable sense of Peruvian pride, community and love.

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Awarding Peru’s ceviche ambassadors. Second from right, Pedro Solari, known as the Godfather of Ceviche. On far right is chef Adolfo Perret of the restaurant Punta Sal.

A live band entertained hundreds of visitors who explored the vendors’ booths amidst a layer of smoke from grilled anticuchos. The holiday brought out many locals looking to celebrate a national custom, and ceviches sold for as little as seven soles.

“Ceviche is a tribute to our own flag,” smiled one aspiring cevichero handing out business cards at the event. He then proceeded to say that gastronomy events are becoming more popular in Peru. “It’s the first Northern Peruvian food festival,” he said, emphasizing the expansion of this sort of cuisine pride fortifying a national identity.

A press conference at noon lured journalists who looked forward not only to seeing the minister of production present awards to renowned chefs, but also to tasting some of Lima’s best ceviches and other seafood. The restaurants brought ingredients to prepare ceviche varieties with fried fish or extra yellow ají and rocoto for additional spiciness.

Journalists especially were excited by the appearance of famous chefs like Pedro Solari, widely known for inventing modern-day Peruvian ceviche, Javier Vargas, president of the Association of Peruvian Seafood Restaurants (ARMAP), and Adolfo Perret of the restaurant Punta Sal.

Speakers praised the dish, labeling it an icon that inspires chefs to provide the best quality seafoods. Its incredible influence also has had the ability to consolidate the nation. Many times the dish will bring together foods from Peru’s diverse regions: a ceviche made with flounder on the Pacific coast, a trout ceviche from the Andes, or a ceviche with an enormous paiche fish caught from the Amazon River.

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“It’s a marvelous day,” said Solari while leaving the stage to accept his award. Numerous audience members flocked for photographs with him, some asking him to hold the bowl of ceviche for a photo.

The public attitude toward the national legend truly manifests the pride and joy that National Ceviche Day invokes in Peruvians. The event’s MC summed it up: “It conjures up a love that warms your heart.”

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