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eat the cup 2014, part seven :: everything's cool

the first thrashings of summer heat have landed on our backs here in montreal. i fight this for as long as i can where the world cup is concerned, but there are days when i have to admit it: it's simply not possible for me to cook.

that's why the gods invented ceviche.

well, i don't know if any actual gods were involved, or if it was just a group of central americans who had a wonderful haul of fresh fish and no desire to do anything that would make them hotter. ceviche is for people who are either put off by sushi or who simply aren't confident enough to try it for themselves [like me]. it seems strange, the idea of being intimidated by preparing something you don't cook, but it really isn't as simple as carving up a few filets and throwing them on rice.

ceviche is common throughout central and south america and although there are regional variations. the basics are the same: you take fresh fish and marinate it in citrus juices, along with herbs and spices. as the fish marinates, the citric acid reacts with the flesh and "cooks" it. the fish will become opaque, just as it does when heated, but you don't have to turn on a single heat source. when the temperature gets into the 90s and higher [it's forecast to be as high as 41 celsius tomorrow, which is over 100 fahrenheit], this preparation trick seems somewhat miraculous.

while snooping around the internet, i found references to the costa rican method of producing ceviche, which involves using soda of some type- ginger ale or soda water, usually- in the marinade. i put my own completely inauthentic twist on this by using fresca, my personal favourite soft drink [although honestly i rarely drink them] and one that has an exceptionally zesty citrus flavour. i also added a bit of fresh ginger, since ginger makes almost anything better.

ceviche works with almost anything from the ocean. for some reason, i'm leery of using shellfish, because there's a fine line between riddled with bacteria and tough as a shoe, but lots of other people do this, especially with shrimp and i imagine that smaller scallops would be wonderful. in this particular instance, i used a combination of white fishes: cod, haddock and tilapia. tilapia is extremely common in central and south american cuisine, so it's the most authentic one and also a fish that takes exceptionally well to this manner of cooking. i suspect that pink-fleshed fish like salmon and trout won't work because their coveted oily flavour will compete with the citrus rather than complement it. [i do think that tuna would be a nice addition, however.] very delicate fish like sole, or anything that's frozen rather than fresh, will not work, because the "cooking" process will reduce them to mush.

gets the dom[tm] seal of approval
here's the list of what i used:
about 1.5 pounds fresh white-fleshed fish, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup fresca [or ginger ale]
1 small onion, chopped
1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup lime juice
1/3 cup lemon juice
1-2 hot peppers, seeded and chopped or 2 tsps hot pepper sauce [to taste]
2 tbsp capers*

*these are completely optional and something that i decided to throw in to offer a salty counterpoint to the sweetness of the soda. if you don't like them, don't use them. if you don't use them, though, i'd recommend splitting the amount of soda in half and using a half cup plain soda water.

the instructions for preparation are simple: mix all the ingredients except the fish in a large bowl. leave for about 5 minutes to give the flavours time to blend. add the fish and make sure that it's completely submerged. put it in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours; the firmer the fish, the longer you should leave it, although if you want things to move faster, cut the fish in smaller pieces. the fish will look opaque and break apart easily when it's done.

i specifically wanted to do something to honour costa rica, since i just barely touched on their flavours and because, frankly, they deserve their own spotlight. a few short weeks ago, everyone in the world who knew anything about the world cup knew that costa rica was a team destined to dust the basement stairs of a terribly difficult group. instead, they came out at the top of the class, whereas england and italy, probably the two countries most associated with the sport, got sent home with failing grades.

a school metaphor is apt here because much of the team's success has come from a player who's barely out of high school himself, 21 year old joel campbell. the youngest player to score at a tournament that's seen several young players do well, he celebrates his goals thusly:

because we didn't feel pervy enough already
when he's actually playing, though, he's all business. it was unnerving watching how calmly he took a penalty shot that helped send his team through to the quarter-finals, because he possesses a maturity far beyond his years. he has the combination of self-awareness and confidence that one finds only in professional athletes and serial killers. three million costa ricans [and probably several would-be victims] are really happy that he went with the former.

costa rica can basically do whatever they want now, because they've already gone so much farther than anyone imagined they could go. they'll face the netherlands in their next game, which is a tough, tough draw. but even if they do bow out, they're already the tournament's greatest overachievers. on the other hand, they haven't exactly done what was expected of them at any point until now, so who knows what they'll be able to pull off?

and speaking of pulling things [like clothes] off... here's your

man candy of the match

today saw a surprisingly sluggish german side see off the tournament's other great overachievers, algeria. while i've been impressed with the german play thus far [although they are showing a tendency to roll over a little too easily], i can't help but feel saddened that an injury sidelined one of the team's best strikers and one of the game's truly great examples of man candy. so, in absentia, i give you: mario gomez.

it would feel hot in here even if it weren't hot in here
why yes, i would love to roll around on the grass with you
gomez is another statuesque figure with chiseled features, penetrating blue eyes and a sideline as a male model [not uncommon in this sport] for prestige brands who seem to have cottoned on to the fact that when people dream of a thrilling trip to europe, what they're dreaming of is meeting someone who looks like mario gomez to sweep them off their feet, not a package tour and some photos of the leaning tower of pisa.

best. vacation. ever.
i find that gomez bears a certain resemblance to earlier man candy feature olivier giroud. both are tall drinks of water, as they say. both have mesmerizing bright eyes. both have that effortless-but-totally-stylish hairstyle. both have spoken up in support of gay rights. and most importantly, both seem to share the same allergy to clothing.

reject the tyranny of shirts.
they're trying to figure out who gets to tell him the game hasn't started yet.
aw man, now my pants are chafing...
what is most tragic for those of us admiring the beauties of the beautiful game is that france and germany are set to face off against each other in the quarter finals. that means that gomez' injury has robbed us all of a chance to see two of the world's most attractive specimens romping around the pitch, trying to compete with each other to see who can get down to their undies first, or possibly giving each-other a good natured embrace as they exchange shirts that neither of them can ever wear due to their mutual affliction.

the world cup is a cruel thing. cruel to mario. cruel to those of us who don't get to see him. get better soon, schatzi. wir vermissen dich!

we miss you!!

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