It doesn't seem long ago now that you could bet people that almost every swanky new restaurant being built in a city was soon to be crowned a sushi bar.
In the late 80s sushi blew up in New York with the help of the Japanese chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa and his celebrity fan Robert De Niro. Then in the 90s the people of London slowly let down their guard and started to consume this exotic offering from Japan. Now sushi is in every major city in the world, the supermarkets stock it and there's even famous sushi chefs with big budget documentary crews following their lives.
Safe to now call it a global dish, sushi is for the Japanese what pizza is for the Italians, an icon of the people, a symbol of the country, something representative of culture. It took sushi over 2,500 years to get to this level but it may now be time to step aside and make way for a spicier, tastier and louder raw seafood dish from Peru.
Ceviche is a traditional dish from Central and South America, varying greatly in preparation and taste depending on where it is made. The origins of the dish are from Peru, something the world famous Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio is very proud of.
For a long time the chef has been working with producers and chefs from his country to try and push ceviche as a national dish. Something the people should be proud of and something they should export. It seems he understands the importance of a symbolic food used to help identify his nation and it seems the message he has been preaching for years is finally getting through as more and more ceviche bars begin to open around the world. But what is ceviche?
It's a simple food consisting of raw (sometimes cooked) fish, diced onion, lime, coriander and lots of chili. Some people add tomato sauce and other people may add coconut milk. There are literally hundreds of variations, small nuances in the way each person prepares it and very few rules - something that makes it perfect for exporting.
At this year's chef congress, Identità Golose, Gaston's presentation centered around the many variations of ceviche, but after loosing his bag full of ingredients the chef had to prepare the dish with Italian fish and vegetables he bought locally. He admitted that nothing tastes as good as a Peruvian lime but proved that the dish can be localised very easily.
Already in New York there are a number of ceviche bars and the more recently the first ceviche restaurant opened in London's Soho - simply called 'Ceviche,' the restaurant prepares the dish fresh in front of diners and has already received lots of press attention. Ceviche is a dish that tastes very alive, zesty and loud, a dish that seems to express the personality of the people who make it.
What held back sushi's growth for so long, especially in Europe, was people's attitudes towards eating raw fish. But the raw fish barrier is now down and nothing stands in the way of this simple, super fresh and iconic dish making it's way into the kitchens of London, New York, Paris and the world.
It does have a very long way to come before it is viewed on the same level as sushi, but if that fresh and sparkling Latino flavour transports as well as Asia's, maybe in a few years the safe bet will be that the new swanky restaurant opening in your city is sure to be crowned a ceviche bar.