LOVE UNDER THE INCA SKY by R. Nandy
“When I planted a stolen kiss on your lips, those tender lips so innocent and pure!
Between the tall bushes and slender trees, gaining strength to endure!
With your black hair’s cascading flow, and your beauty all shimmering bright;
When you anxiously looked back to see, and hurried back with steps so light!
And at night under the starry sky, I think of you as my guiding star!
With your laughter like the mountain stream, you stay so near, and yet you are so far!
I go to bed with your happy thoughts, and think of the goodness of your heart;
Of kissing you behind those bushes once more, when our lips will get locked, – never to part!”
Many people touch the edges of our lives… coming & going…. along our journeys, some special folks make a real difference in our lives. Anticipating next week’s Valentine’s Day with great excitement, I have decided to make a ceviche from Peru, the heart of Inca Civilization. I’ve chosen the refreshing meal from there to celebrate the love and affection of many inspirational people I am very grateful to have in my life this Valentine’s Day.
First, I thinly slice one red onion and mix it with sea salt. A couple of minutes later, I wash it with cold water and squeeze the water out by hand. Then, I mix it with 1 cup of freshly squeezed juice from limes, 1 cup of freshly squeezed juice from lemons, 5 cloves crushed garlic, ½ teaspoon crushed chili pepper, 1 chopped serrano green chili, 1 teaspoon sea salt, ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper & 2 Tablespoons cilantro. Subsequently, I add 2 lbs tilapia fillets (cut into 1 inch pieces) to the mixture and let it marinate for a couple of hours in the refrigerator. Lastly, I garnish the Peruvian ceviche with lettuce & two pieces of red bell pepper cut into heart-shapes and serve with oven-roasted corn on the cob and sweet potato.
Marinating fish in the citrus juice is like naturally cooking with acidity. The fish comes out firm, flavorful and snow-white, as if it had been poached on a stove top. Every bite tastes like a refreshing sea breeze from a tropical paradise. And, what a great sweet background tone a bite of corn, still on the cob, and a fork full of sweet potato adds to the ceviche.
This ceviche gets even better when I pair it with a glass of sparkling wine. On New Years Eve, Mary Ann and Lawrence gave me a bottle of Graham Beck Brut made with a blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in South Africa. Fermented in the bottle for 2 years, this wine is light, creamy & yeasty. Its light weight and tartness beautifully complements the ceviche, while the small bubbles counterbalance the subtle spicy heat of it. The “yeasty/doughy” character of the bubbly also pairs nicely with the roasted corn and sweet potato.
If you want an interesting Valentine’s meal idea other than a sweet chocolaty dessert, this recipe and bubbly is a great one to consider. I wish everyone very happy Valentine’s Day.