As the flagship national dish and candidate for UNESCO intangible heritage, ceviche has become a poster child for Peru’s global gastronomic revolution in the past decade. Led by “gastropolitical elites,” the Peruvian boom sought to influence perceptions of the country, from struggling economy blighted by internal conflict to sophisticated culinary destination and exporter of world-class cuisine. However, the elite-led boom echoes colonial power structures, whereby indigenous and nonwhite Peruvians are exploited and/or erased. As a raw-fish dish with a historical attachment to the ocean-imported disease cholera, as well as contemporary associations with marine microplastics, ceviche is firmly entangled with water. Considering that coastal lifeways have hitherto been overlooked in analyses of Peruvian gastronomy, ceviche merits particular attention for the way in which it is globally framed by gastropolitical elites. Using interviews with Peruvian interlocutors and ethnographic fieldwork in London’s Peruvian culinary scene, in this article I address the ceviche discourse and its place within the construction of the nation. I will argue that, in relying on the popularity of Japanese food and presenting ceviche as sushi-like (though importantly, not necessarily “nikkei”), gastropolitical elites seek to remove the dish from its situated realities, where it is associated with dirt, disease, and the nonwhite. I analyze the historic cholera outbreak and an Oceana marine microplastics campaign to discuss the embedded discourse inherent in what, or who, is “not wanted” in ceviche’s exported image, to conclude that, through ceviche, elites attempt to refashion the nation following logics of coloniality.

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