A Dish For A King
Northern Peru, close to the border with Ecuador, South America.
WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Spaniards reach Peru in search of Gold and riches.
THE LAST TWO INCA EMPERORS AT WAR...
A civil war wrecked havoc between two Inca brothers who claimed the throne as theirs.
New epidemics subdued the Indians who were no immune to any of the new plagues. Atahualpa was resting in a higher land city called Caxamarca, waiting for his intelligence to confirm his next move. Either attack Cuzco the capital of the INCA EMPIRE or go back to Quito.
History as we know it:
The legend starts on Northern Peru. Pizarro, a Spaniard Conquistador, arrived on South American Beaches, precisely on the Coast of Tumbes.
He was here before in 1528, but just for recognizance purposes. Local Indians that were decimated by the Inca Atahualpa welcomed them as WIracochas -- saviors or Semi gods with armors and helmets; fair skinned and bearded.
The so awaited 'Wiracochas' or 'godsend bearded' in their language, took several Indian hostages but kept this Indian Called 'Felipillo' who was born on a near Island called Puna.
He learned Spanish in few months and became their translator immediately. At first, he tried to explain of the Incas civil war which involved Huascar and his half brother Atahualpa. Actually Atahualpa had escaped from a prison 6 months before.
Pizarro was checking the nearby towns, subjugated by the Incas. He noticed these well dressed fishermen who were catching fishes with rudimentary spears and surfing and rafting equipment for that time.
Felipillo told the newcomers that these messengers were getting fresh fish for the King Atahualpa, "who was there over the sacred Mountains."
"And how the hell, were they gonna take this perishable seafood up into the Andes?" asked Hernando DeSoto. "The Inca Sapa had deviced a network of Chasquis or running postal deliverers who were the best sprinters from the whole Empire; literally an elite of 'human cheetahs' for the king.
They were able to take posts or this well conceived relay system and transferred their precious delivery, including delicacies as fish or seafood and also crab and shrimps. They usually carried a natural trumpet made of big sea shells and these knotted thread called the talking strings or Quipus.
Pizarro, who always was ahead of everything succeeded in capturing one of these Inca sprinters, who surrendered after trying his best to escape. Five minutes later, Felipillo got hold of the Chasqui and asked, "what was delivering to the Inca Monarch this time...?"
"Royal fish for our Sapa Inca," answered the Chasqui, worried about his own life, making faces to Felipillo who was considered a traitor to his own people. After a few exchange of words in Quechua, Felipillo told the Spaniards to witness the first dish that the Western hemisphere inherited from Peruvian Soil. That is, 'Cebiche'.
The more calmed royal mailman took a knife from his vicuna made undergarment. He looked in the distance and found a natural reef. He told Felipillo that he needed a flattened area to cut the fish. The Conquistadors followed closely. The Chasqui had this cutting tool which was intelligently crafted from fish bone. And at once, the sprinter, started slicing the loaf of fish in square pieces on a flattened bedrock, right by the coast of Tumbes.
Felipillo kept explaining the process in detail to the Spaniards, who were already hungry. "The main secret is the lemon juice," he remarked. When the Chasqui was done cutting the raw meat into small pieces, he asked for a bowl or container. The translator himself brought a bowl made of clay and started squeezing the lemon into the raw meat.
"It would take between 15 to 20 minutes," Felipillo asserted. The fish turned, looking more like a regular marinated chicken. Some hands are better when its time to do the squeezing," explained the messenger in his clear Cuzco Quechua.
"The Inca had a craving for Ceviche from our coastline shores," affirmed the Chasqui, who felt he was already safe. The Inca wanted the fish to reach to him in less than 6 hours. Atahualpa knew of this dish, when He subdued the Northern tribes from Peru In order to keep his harem of concubines happy. "What?"
The Inca submerged himself in a thermal pool. His entourage of concubines were always close to him, even when it was time to take a bath. The Inca was far from believing in his capture.
The Chasqui asked for onions sliced and boiled potatoes.
Pizarro, his brother Hernando, Diego de Almagro, Hernando De Soto and their hundred and eighty conquerors, started to squeeze lemons themselves; some even started to dive into the dangerous ocean waves in order to catch more fishes with their own hands! Horses started to run up and down along the beach, seeing their masters acting like kids. Tumbes people looked in awe. Father Valverde made the sign of the Cross after his early prayer. Suddenly he was grabbed from behind and got thrown into the oncoming ocean waves.
Time To Go!
The Chasqui bowed and asked for permission to get himself going. We were able to capture the breeze that got lost into the rare air and hills, part of his own fellow messengers. Pizarro nodded, but asked the Indian messenger to take a bottle of homemade Castillian 'Wine' that they brought from Badajoz de Jerez, Spain. "This way the Inca will know before hand, that we come as friends and perhaps allies in future endeavors," said Pizarro. The Chasqui was not in the mood to do it, but was warned by Felipillo. "Just abide, or else..!"
Father Valverde, a Catholic Converter Bishop wanted so bad to start to save souls. He made the sign of the cross and waved good bye to this Inca messenger.
Legend has it that the wine was already tainted and poisoned by the Spaniards. Atahualpa got hold of it as a present, not as a drink. Four weeks later Hernando Desoto went to visit the Inca himself. Hernando took another bottle and opened it He told the Inca that, "the wine held spirits form the old world." The Inca was not really impressed but was forced by his concubines and General Quizquiz. The emperor drank of his own bottle, and shared it with his Generals at the request of Hernando DeSoto, who went to visit him at his royal tent on November 15th, 1532, the night before the historical capture of the last Monarch to eleven million of souls.
Hernando DeSoto would leave PERU rich in gold, and as we know he would travel to Florida in 1539, in search for the famous fountain of youth. Which he never found, except for his discovery of the Mississippi river.
It's believed that the word Ceviche was coined by Pirates from England. The word that originated the actual name came from the two words, "sea beach."
THE RECIPE ....
CEVICHE (1 OF MANY DISHES FROM PERU)
2 or 3 lbs. of tilapia fish fillets, no bones needed
8-10 garlic cloves chopped, good for your heart
salt, 1 teaspoon
chopped cilantro, 2 teaspoons, for flavor
1 Habanero pepper or jalapeno, will open all your pores...sorry!
8 to 10 squeezed lemons on a small bowl, enough to cover the fish
1 red onion sliced and rinsed to avoid those sentimental feelings. LOL, white
onions might work too.
Mixed in all the ingredients except the onion sliced rings
place on top of the marinated pulp those red onions. Put it in the freezer for 30 min. to let the
juice make its magic!
Serve with boiled potatoes in slices to cut down the spicy taste, you can add sweet potatoes as well.
As a decorative ingredient, you can add lettuce leaves on the side.
Serve with joy!
This recipe is rich in beta carotene and omega oil.