Peru’s Ceviche applying for UNESCO Status

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Monday March 04, 2019
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Peru is in the process of applying their famous dish ceviche to be a part of the UNESCO world cultural status, the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. This list composes of cultural cuisine from all over the world. Cuisine must represent the culture and have rich significance to the nation that it originates. After years of attempts, Peru’s best shot may be now.

Ceviche is a seafood dish that some experts argue originated in Moche, along the coastline of northern Peru. Ceviche has existed since the time of the Incas.

Ceviche has many forms, but the staples of ceviche consist of raw, fresh fish cooked in lime and served with onions and other spices.

With over 3,000 Peruvian dishes in the Peruvian cuisine, how did ceviche make its way to the top? Peru is a diverse country: the mountains, beach, and jungle make for a diverse country of cultures and practices. Ceviche is one of the few Peruvian dishes able to represent all these various cultures. Yucca, a starchy root, is common in the tropics and can be used in ceviche dishes from the jungle. Ceviche has advantages in that it is a dish served all across Peru, and each region can put their own twist on the dish.

Rogers Valencia, minister of culture, also notes “Peru is a very diverse country which is reflected in its cuisine. It has been difficult to choose an element among the multiple options of our culinary heritage” Although ceviche is served elsewhere in Latin America, such as Mexico, Chile, and Ecuador, it is most popular in Peru. In a survey done by Ipsos in 2018, over 77% of Peruvians identify ceviche as their national dish. Chef Adolfo Perret passionately describes his reasoning for ceviche, “It is a dish that is anchored within homes, in our family units. It is an expression of where we come from and who we are…”

Ceviche has several advantages to their application. Ceviche is nutritious. Shrimp ceviche is high in protein, iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and calcium. The dish is also low in calories. One cup of shrimp ceviche holds 144 calories. 1 cup tilapia ceviche is 164 calories.

One of the challenges this application faces is maintaining environmental consciousness. The mechanisms used to produce ceviche must be ethical in order to qualify for UNESCO´s world cultural heritage status. Peruvian working groups must educate themselves in the exactly how fish are being caught, how many, what sizes, and how this affects the overall ecosystem of Peruvian oceans.

As a result, the UNESCO working group is looking to develop plans to make the process of making ceviche an ethical endeavor. The group will commit to studying river and ocean trends to determine the most environmentally conscious way to create ceviche. This involves enforcing laws about the fish size that fishermen capture, legal fishing techniques, and fish quantity.

Ceviche is a popular dish in Peru that encompasses the diverse regions of Peru. It is rich in flavor, nutrition, and culture—making it a competitive dish to consider for the UNESCO world cultural heritage status.

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