“Cilantro (…) is like a parsley that made a pact with the Devil”
If there is a phrase that tempts an Argentine who has never had Peruvian food to try it, it is this one.
Federico Levin, a writer from Argentina, not only honors cilantro, but all of Peruvian food in his gastronomic—detective novel titled simply “Ceviche”.
It is an absolutely Argentine story and absolutely Peruvian whose conencting thread is Peruvian cuisine and its traditional dishes. Sarcastic and entertaining with gifts of suspense, this dark, urban novel narrates from the point of view of Buenos Aires journalist, very porteño (as the residents of this city are known) who almost by chance becomes a detective, the customs of this immigrant community that has established itself in Buenos Aires since the 90s, especially in the Abasto Neighborhood and of the interactions between both cultures.
Seeking to fill his uncontrolabel hunger and trying to find a perfect ceviche in Buenos Aires, Sapo (Toad) Vizcarra, the central character of the book, is like a fat Quijote next to his Dionisio, his skinny Sancho Panza. They undertake a mysterious and sensual journey in which dishes are almsot characters, such as tacu-tacu, papas a la huancaina, anticuchos, and even a suspicious parihuela, in order to solve the mystery hidden en “Sus Majestades Incaicas” a musical group made up of Peruvian immigrants to Argentina.
Filled with originality, the novel is interesting for those who live between Argentina and Peru. We understand the codes and the very Argentine (or better said very Porteño) speech and the very Peruvian language parallel to it, as well as the portrait of an infraworld filled with dives and delights in the now very Peruvian neighborhood important to the history of Tango called Abasto.