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Aug 16, 2010 01:24 PM

Come to Guatemala, Jonathan Gold. There is literally ceviche on every corner

A recent Antigua Daily Photo entry writes ...

"Last week Jonathan Gold from LA Weekly and Evan Kleinman host of KCRW’s Good Food program did a review of La Cevicheria, a Guatemalan owned ceviche restaurant in Los Angeles. In the podcast Jonathan declared the Guatemalan ceviche the best of all ceviches and was surprised since, in his opinion, Guatemala does not posses a ceviche tradition.

Huh? That’s exactly what I thought!"

.... and I gotta go with ADP on this one. My jaw dropped.

With a country closely hugged by two oceans, abounding with lakes and rivers, pescado and mariscos rule.

This might not be the case for Guatemalan restaurants in the US that don't have such a bountiful supply.

Even in my nothing town of Masagua, the local gas station has a ceviche cart where you can also buy a beer ... yep, gas up, down a beer and off you go.

Mayan women stroll up and down beaches balancing baskets on their heads. The baskets contain cups of ceviche, limes, bottles of hot sauce and English sauce.

ADP goes on to write " I am certain now that the only dishes that you can find everywhere you go in Guatemala are Ceviche and Chow Mein."

A Chinese restaurant I recently visited almost combined both. They have Chinese ceviche on the menu ... haven't tried it yet.

Besides being stellar fresh ... though I DID have one using Krab ... shame on you Cevicheria Paty ... the portions are generous. They are often served with chiplin tamales.

To correct this grievous misconception that might enter the US perception of Guatemalan food ... here's some wonderful photos from ADP about ceviche

Here are my own early ceviche experiences.During the next few months in Guatemala one of my goals is to sample as much ceviche and micheladas as possible ... a formidable task.

Ceviche: Vuelve a la Vida ("Back to Life”) or “corpse reviver” (“Levanta Muertos")

Blanqui Sevicheria

Jet Set

Cevicheria Paty

While I adore Gold, this is an error that reallyy shouldn't be made by a food journalist of his knowledge and renown. Take a trip to Guatemala, Jonathan Gold. The food might surprise you ... in a good way ... though surprisingly good coffee is difficult to find.

The cuisine is and isn't what I expected. Antigua Daily Photo is an encyclopedic gold mine about many of the dishes and foods of Guatemala, especially those not widely known outside the country.

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  1. If you ever get to Panajachel check out the "Cross roads coffee shop". Mike has all sorts of
    incredible coffees from all over Guatemala and the world. One of my favorites is "Top Secret" and
    there is a Huehuetinango Altura which is exquisite.
    Pablito el gordito

    3 Replies
    1. re: paul balbin

      Thanks. I added them to my 'to-try' list. It is not that there isn't good coffee here ... I think ... but the regular folk can't afford it, so it isn't much sold outside the tourist places.

      1. re: rworange

        Tried to email you some info on Mike to the address on your page but it bounced. Need an
        Pablito el gordito

        1. re: paul balbin

          Still the address and another poster emailed me for the first time using it. Think email address when extracting the info. The Chow software just automatically adds the www. part.

    2. I appreciate your evangelism of Guatemala. It is a spectacular country.

      But I have to drop in a warning about imported ingredients (Mexican shrimp) and going all over the country looking for ceviche. Be careful.

      While good restaurants in mainland towns and smaller waterside spots can be trusted, you have to be very careful about ordering ceviche all over the country.

      While ceviche is alive and well, I think the large majority of it should be avoided in fear of foodborne diseases, because you cannot trust that extremely poor people will care for mariscos and pescados in a proper way from water to table.

      I say all this because I am constantly surprised when my well-traveled, first-world friends head down to South and Central America and end up getting food poisoning.

      2 Replies
      1. re: kaysyrahsyrah

        I use pretty much the same standards as in the US. While the ceviche guy at the gas station is charming, I'd be loathe to buy ceviche which is kept in a picnic cooler I passed on the ceviche ladies at the beach because unrefrigerated ceviche that has had the hot sun beating down on it all day .. didn't seem wise. Sun tea ... yes. Sun ceviche ... no.

        There are some fruit vendors near the toll booth in town and you can see the group about a half a block away, cutting up raw fruit with no water or rest rooms near by. I don't think so.

        Also, I'm lucky to be living with my husband's Guatemalan family, so they keep me in check. I was going to get some ice cream near the border from a guy pushing a cart and everyone shook their heads and said no. Don't you love that the word "no" is the same in most countries.

        No real evangalism. I just happen to be living here for a year and thought I'd pass along what I am leariing food-wise. Americans know so little about the cuisine as demoed by that JG interview. Actually I didn't know how important ceviche was until moving here ... or how much Guatemalans love Chinese food.

        Even though I knew my husband's family since the 1990's and lived with my husband over six years in the US, I had no clue what the heck Guatemalan cuisine was about.

        Some of the reason, simply amounts to ingredients. The fresh fruits and seafood here is unavailable in the US. Another factor is Guatemalans dismissing some of the great food they make as not important. Some dishes, such as flambre, are too complicated and wouldn't sell well for the effort involved. And a lot of the food really isn't that different from what is served in the US.

        1. re: rworange

          some of the best ceviche I've ever had was when we lived in Guatemala. The best being made by one of the deck hands on a fishing boat out of the dorado we caught about 15 minutes earlier. Talk about fresh!!

      2. Hugo’s Ceviche

        This seems as good a place as any to post about Hugo’s Ceviche for which rworagnge posted a link to Antigua Daily Photo above.

        As described in that post, the ceviche, which can be ordered with just shrimp or with shrimp and conch (I had the latter), is made with soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, mint, cilantro, lots and lots of lime juice, a salsa of chopped tomatoes and onions, and a salsa picante that seemed to be ketchup-based, but perhaps it was just a tomato and chile pepper sauce.

        This was sold from a cart near the mercado and it was quite an operation with one person placing the bagged-in-portions, sitting on ice seafood and sauces into bowls and adding the condiments, someone else squeezing the fresh lime juice over all, another person opening beers and pouring a myriad of different things I couldn’t identify into the beer-can opening, and a fourth in charge of taking the money and making change. You can buy the seviche in two sizes; the one pictured here is small and I had two meals from it. The price of the small has gone up from 50 quetzales to 65 quetzales—about $8.25, a significant sum for Guatemalan street food.

        They were doing a booming business. I had to wait at least fifteen minutes to order and another few until it was ready. This is reputed to be the best ceviche in Antigua and it was very good indeed. But not as good as a ceviche I’ve had in Guatemala City. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of that cevicheria. If I remember to ask my friends what the name was and where it is, I’ll come back with the info.

        1 Reply
        1. re: JoanN

          Ah, Hugo's is no my to-try list. They also hae a regular restaurant next to a gas station on the road into Antigua ... sort of near the Hotel Soleil.