3.27.2006

Raw Like Ceviche

I've eaten a lot of raw fish in my time, and I've only gotten food poisoning from it once. This was on our honeymoon, when we ate ceviche on the beach in Mexico. (It's not quite as moronic as it sounds—the ceviche came from the beach restaurant in our 4-star hotel, and Nick didn't get sick even though he ate as much as I did.) But yacking in the plaza of a quaint Mexican town whilst disgusted local children looked on in morbid curiosity did put me off this dish forever. Last night, we went to a Peruvian restaurant with two other couples, and we ordered the restaurant's specialty: ceviche. Five out of six people ate it; one out of six got sick (unfortunate Nick—though better him than the other people, who are visiting San Francisco on vacation).

But what baffles me is this: I've only eaten ceviche maybe seven times in my life, and at least two of those (that I know of) resulted in someone getting food poisoning. Meanwhile, I've been eating sushi on a regular basis for at least 15 years and have never gotten food poisoning from it once. (It's possible someone I ate with did, but the incidence rate is low enough to be considered negligible in my book.) So, as of last night, I developed a little hypothesis: Sushi restaurants, even the lowest-end ones, have higher standards for refrigeration, hygiene, and fish quality—because raw fish is their "core competency"—than even a higher-end Spanish cuisine restaurant that serves ceviche as the only raw fish item on their otherwise highly cooked menu.

Or in other words, don't eat raw fish unless it's prepared by a real pro. Thoughts?



5 comments:

jfh said...

you know, Mexicans do not consider ceviche to be raw. they claim that marinating in lemon juice 'cooks' it. i love both dishes (sushi and ceviche) and have never gotten sick, but i'm not bragging about it. i'm sure my number could be up at any moment!

Jennifer said...

perhaps that's the problem--that they don't obsess over the "raw" aspect of the dish?

jfh said...

Dear Mental HiJinks--I know you are busy but I wish you would write more often.I enjoy reading your blog.

Anonymous said...

Hey, was the restaurant on the beach in Ixtapa? Because the same thing happened to me there. My friend ate more ceviche than me, and she didn't get sick at all. I spent the night in a hospital in Zihautenejo - pretty bad case of food poisoning.

Anonymous said...

I should add that it was also a very American restaurant, part of a very American hotel on the beach. I'm more or less a vegetarian. So when I told that to the doctor, he implied that had something to do with me getting so sick. Ya got me. I won't be eating any more raw fish though.