Celebrating exquisite story of Peruvian delicacy ceviche

Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
/ New Delhi
Celebrating exquisite story of Peruvian delicacy ceviche

This exquisite seafood delicacy first emerged in the coastal Moche civilisation of Peru approximately 2,000 years ago

One of the biggest tourist attractions in Peru is its exquisite spread of culinary delicacies, presided over by ceviche, perhaps the best known Peruvian product and recognised by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
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Peru’s captivating past and picturesque landscapes have established it as a renowned destination for travellers, earning it the notable distinction of being the gastronomic capital of Latin America. 

This accolade can largely be attributed to the soaring popularity of ceviche, an exquisite and widely-adored Peruvian culinary masterpiece. 

History and origin


An intriguing archaeological theory suggests that this exquisite seafood delicacy first emerged in the coastal Moche civilisation of Peru approximately 2,000 years ago. The Moche people ingeniously marinated their seafood utilising a fermented juice derived from the local tumbo passionfruit. Subsequently, during the era of the Inca Empire, fish underwent marination using a traditional Andean fermented beverage known as chicha, effectively ‘cooking’ the fish without the aid of heat.

With the arrival of Spanish colonialists in Peru, the culinary landscape experienced a further transformation as they introduced citrus fruits to the region. The zesty juice of these fruits soon became the principal component for marinating fish in ceviche preparation.

It was during this period that ceviche blossomed into a celebrated national dish, evolving and incorporating diverse local and regional flavours to achieve a heightened level of customization and culinary excellence. 



With its irresistible blend of flavours, this delectable dish has captivated the global stage, captivating palates across the world. Ceviche, in its purest form, showcases the harmonious combination of raw fish, zesty Peruvian hot peppers, tangy lime juice, and a touch of Peruvian chili, resulting in a dish that is both savoury and refreshingly uncomplicated. In modern times, the most renowned iterations of ceviche entail a harmonious marriage of lime juice, salt, chili, and onion, elegantly draping the delicate seafood. The acidic essence of the citrus takes centre stage, effectively engaging with the proteins present in the fish.

As a result, a remarkable transformation takes place, as the proteins gradually coagulate, imbuing the fish with a newfound firmness and opaqueness. Simultaneously, the lime intertwines with the other accompanying ingredients, giving rise to a spirited elixir referred to as ‘leche de tigre,’ also known as the captivating ‘tigers milk.’

The age-old tradition and expertise surrounding Ceviche have earned it the esteemed recognition of being listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. This iconic dish holds a significant place in the culinary landscape of Peru, boasting an array of diverse recipes across the nation. 

Beyond the gastronomic appeal, the designation also serves as a testament to the value of Peruvian cuisine as a social and cultural institution. The inclusion of the profound knowledge underlying this culinary heritage on the global stage further solidifies its status as a cherished component of our collective human heritage.

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