Thursday, March 13, 2014

A ceviche recipe which isn't kosher

I can always rely on finding something in Revue to give me the Grumpy Cat face. This month it was Amalia's recipe for ceviche de pescado

Firstly, is there really a need to describe any chile in Guatemala as 'Thai'? Back in the days before the Maya swapped chili-peppers for smallpox, the food over there in South East Asia must have been bland, bland, bland. 

But before I could get really worked up about that, along comes 'Kosher Salt'. 

From the perspective of correct Jewish diet, all salt is Kosher* This little misnomer however originates in the use of very thick grained salt to remove blood from the meat of animals that have had their throats cut ritually and left to bleed out in agony. 

Being suited for this kind of desiccation makes it potentially less than ideal for a dish like ceviche - which usually features a limited quantity of liquid - as it will almost certainly fail to dissolve. 

So why has it been included here? Well, these days many menus and recipes are plagued with utterly superfluous adjectives, deployed to accentuate the exotic in what might otherwise come across as generic. Just place the word Madagascan in front of Vanilla Ice Cream and you'll see what I mean. 

So-called Kosher salt also has fewer additives (such as iodine) than ordinary table salt and so its use here might be analagous to 'organic' other words conveying the smug 'I don't shop at the Bodegona' premium of the harder to find and the supposedly ethical-healthy alternative. 

Both rationales may be in play here, especially as a few swigs of olive oil are also deemed necessary for this particular ceviche variant: an example of the pointless Mediterraneanisation of everything that Jamie Oliver has made a career out of. As a general rule, the world's great standard dishes are rarely improved by being cheffed up in such unimaginative ways. Olive oil in ceviche? Just don't.

* Unlike say, all forms of ceviche...

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