Seviche, Empanada, Fiambre (1896)

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Sun Nov 9 00:48:44 UTC 2003

  This is a little earlier than OED's 1951 "seviche," from 1993 Additions.  This must be changed immediately, before foodies recoil from the OED in horror.
   I will be leaving for Guyana, French Guiana, Suriname, and Trinidad next week.
   I just spoke to the guy at Kitchen Arts & Letters (the 2002 Oxford Symposium isn't there yet), and they'll take anything from Guyana I've got.  I bought this book:

by Maria Baez Kijac
Boston: Harvard Common Press
478 pages, paperback, $19.95

Pg. 61:
   IT IS NOT QUITE CLEAR where _cebiches_ originated.  _Cebiche_, also spelled _ceviche_ and _seviche_, is fish or seafood "cooked" by citrus juice.

by May Crommelin
New York: The MacMillan Company

Pg. 27:  Breakfast soon followed, at twelve o'clock, for English hours for meals are seldom kept, and we went downstairs to a most substantial repast.  Beginning with soup, followed as a matter of course by cold meat called _fiambre_, we went through a variety of courses, ending with excellent green figs, watermelons, grapes, and peaches.  By the way, the Argentinos are so fond of cold meat that they have many _fiambre_ restaurants; nevertheless, they oddly dub any failure, such as the late Palermo races run in a slight dust-storm, "a cold-meat affair."  The (Pg. 28--ed.) origin of the invariable custom of giving cold meat as a first dish is probably that the traveller, being supposed to be too hungry to wait, was hastily provided with whatever was ready in the larder.  Whilst he this took off the sharp edge of his appetite, eggs were quickly cooked, and then camme the _bife_ (pronounced "beefy"), or beefsteak, which needed a longer time.

Pg. 63:  Chief of these is _carne con cuero_--literally meat with the hide, which is as famous as a Scotch haggis.

Pg. 213:  Farther away was the large kitchen-garden, where Mr. C. especially bade me notice the popular Chilian vegetable _papas de apio_, or celery potatoes.  He thought this celery but slightly different from our own kind.  It is not earthed up, and the tubers, served with white sauce, resemble Jerusalem artichokes, but with the strong celery flavour.  Surely this would be an excellent addition to the list of our English vegetables.

Pg. 214:  "Our workmen," they said, "take an early _desayuno_, or breakfast, of a piece of unleavened bread called _pan blanco_, with a cup of hot _cedron_ tea."
   "_Pan blanco_ is fine stuff when fresh," exclaimed one boy.
   "Very heavy," murmured his father.
   "And the _cedron_ tea is made of the leaves of a wild shrub growing here," volunteered another boy volubly.  "The leaves smell very sweet, and are dried; then they pour on boiling water, and add sometimes just a pinch of real tea."
   "But you should tell, too, that in England it is called sweet-scented verbena," added his mother, delighting me by the information.

Pg. 227:  Refreshments were brought in--native Limache beer, which is said to be excellent, for our men friends, and tea without milk for my girl companion and myself.  Also there was _pan blanco_, very hard unleavened rolls, that even a huge pat of butter could not soften.

Pg. 227:  They rode full dash to the _rancho_ where I had lately seen the _cueca_ danced, and at the wooden _barra_ their clever nags turned round sharp, stopping dead.
   (OED has 1912 for "cueca"--ed.)

Pg. 230:  First came a _cazuela_--most favorite of Chilian dishes--made of chickens boiled down in soup thickened with peas, rice, and potatoes.  Next _empanadas_, or squares of thick paste filled with meat, gravy, and a suspicion of onion--excellent.  Then _papas reinas_, which are rissoles of meat rolled in potatoes and fried.  More potatoes followed, such as the peasants eat alone for their mid-day breakfast; these were swimming in a clear, appetizing gravy, likewise much flavoured with onion.
   What a cheery family party it was, the small boys all ravenous and chattering at the top of their voices!  _They_ are cormorants, remarked their younger sister scornfully.  Presently came _postres_, or puddings.  Chili cheese also, strong-flavoured, but somewhat melting; besides _dulces_, such as preserved yams, or sweet potatoes.

Pg. 312:  Whilst staying down South in Chili, the fame of certain Peruvian dishes had already reached my ears.  My palate now promptly declared that white soup, thickened with Indian corn, and flavoured by strong country cheese, which colours the surface to an orange hue, is excellent fare.  And when fish followed, _seviche_ was hailed rapturously by two English guests, come up from Chili on business, and who, like most _gringoes_, were extravagantly fond of this Peruvian dish.
   _Seviche_ is raw fish cooked in the juice of bitter oranges or lemons.  Do not feel shocked.  It is _really_ cooked when served.  At ten in the morning the fish--which, like all those on the Pacific coast, is large and coarse compared with the delicate finny denizens of Northern waters--the fish, I repeat, is laid in flakes on a shallow dish, with sufficient lemon-juice poured over to cover all.  After soaking in this acid till evening, the flakes are no longer rosy, but white, as if boiled.  The fish is then seasoned with strips of tomatoes and pungent chilis, while various hot vegetables were handed round with the _seviche_ when I tasted it.  There were Indian corn toasted, (Pg. 313--ed.) and the same boiled on the cob; yellow potatoes, yam, and the yucca-root, which is like a giant parsnip.
   The rest of the meal, reminding us pleasantly of England, needs no description; excepting that Juan, the Chinese cook, proved justly famed for his _picantes_, or savoury dishes.

Pg. 319:  At breakfast we begin with either maize porridge and milk, or the excellent orange-hued soup made of _camerones_, that is crayfish from the rivers, and thickened with cheese, eggs, and potatoes.
   Next, there is no more delicious salad-fruit on earth than the _paltas_ here--elsewhere called "alligator," or _avocado_ pears--which are soft as cream-cheese, and nutty-flavoured, only surpassed by those at Guayaquil higher up on the coast.  The fried fish, cutlets, claret, and coffee, which appear afterwards, are world-wide fare.  Not so the fruits, for which Peru is famous.
  At dessert, we enjoy _chirimoyos_, or custard-apples, large and curd-like of flesh, with black seeds,...

Pg. 338:  As in Chili, so food is cheap, good, and plentiful in Peru.  Most dishes were of maize or eggs, and all floated in an orange gravy, coloured by the _aji_ of the west coast, a mild and fragrant pepper.  At many corners, tables of refreshments were set out with plates of bread and sausage, slices of melon, or meat pies, all looking clean and appetizing.  Other tables were covered with the very biggest glasses ever seen, brimming with _chicha_.

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