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A matter of cultural perspective


How would you eat this dish? Would you start by eating the rice first, the squid or the pesto? Would you call it fusion, creative cuisine or a concept dish? Anyway we see it, it is a matter of perspective. So is the way we eat our food. If I had to define food in one word, I’d say food is culture. When it comes to food, our preferences – and our choices of what we eat and cook – are shaped by our cultural backgrounds. Food defines who we are and where we come from: Italians eat pasta, Mexicans eat tacos, Americans eat burgers, Chinese people eat dim sum, etc.

Yet, our eating and cooking habits are also “contaminated” by other cultures – especially for those who,  like me, have emigrated to other countries or the presence of large communities in some countries (Indians in England). This “contamination” brings on the one hand enrichment to our own gastronomical upbringing, on the other hand it broadens our culinary horizons.

In this post I am sharing a recipe that encompasses my Latin American culinary background and the influence of Italian gastronomy…But please don’t call it fusion!!!

Squid Ceviche with Almond-Mint Pesto and Venere Rice. (makes 4 servings)

For the Squid Ceviche


  • 4 medium squids cleaned
  •  1 celery stalk
  • some minced Italian parsley (or cilantro if you prefer)
  •  juice of 4-5 limes
  • salt
  • red pepper corns
  • extra virgin olive oil


  1. Cut the squid into strips
  2. Place squid in a bowl and add lime juice. Let it stand for about 15-20 minutes (do not marinate it for too long, otherwise squid will taste like rubber!)
  3. Cut celery into fine pieces.
  4. Add minced parsley (or cilantro) and celery to squid
  5. Sprinkle with crushed red peppercorns
  6. Drizzle olive oil

For Almond Mint Pesto recipe, see my Pesto recipe replacing basil with mint and pine nuts with almonds.

For the Venere Rice recipe


  • 120 grams of Venere Black Rice (you can use any brown rice or wild rice if you don’t find this rice in your country)
  • water
  • coarse salt

Note: Venere black rice has a beautiful aromatic ebony colored rice that marries well with seafood. It is rich in minerals and has a very delicate taste that resembles freshly baked bread.


  1. Cook rice in a pot with salted water. Venere rice usually cooks in 20 minutes.
  2. Add extra virgin olive oil and ceviche juices.
  3. Add diced cherry or plum tomatoes for garnish (optional)
  4. Serve.
21 Comments Post a comment
  1. carmen1005 #


    December 26, 2012
  2. I have nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award!
    Though I’m sure you have many!
    see info here:

    December 27, 2012
    • Thanks for the nomination! I am honored! Even though I really appreciate your kind nomination, I have decided I am not going to participate in these initiatives anymore. This does not mean I gives less importance to your award; it is just a choice I have made a long time ago. Again thanks for thinking on me and my blog!

      January 2, 2013
  3. Beautifully plated 🙂
    I enjoyed reading your post,I agree with you on the fact that food is indeed influenced by culture though I am not sure if I would call new influences “contamination” .
    They make our culinary experience richer, more interesting and give room to more creativity like your beautiful creation here

    December 27, 2012
    • Hi Sawsan!! Thank you for you kind comment! The word contamination was intended to be a provocative word that I used as an alternative way to describe the elements that are absorbed into (or that alter) a country’s gastronomy in a positive way.

      January 2, 2013
  4. A wonderful, thought-provoking post, Ambrosiana. I gained a new respect for my Mom’s cooking during my first trip to Italy. My Grandmother had been ill for much of Mom and Zia’s childhood. They learned to cook from neighbors and family friends. It wasn’t until I travelled did I realize how “true” their cooking was. At one point, I remember remarking to my friends that it was as if Mom was working in the kitchen. That trip sure was an eye-opener for me.
    The plating of today’s treats is beautiful. As for which I would taste first, I’d wait for you to begin and then I’d follow your lead. 😉

    December 27, 2012
    • Hi John! Thanks!! I think travelling opens up your mind and also makes you appreciate more where you come from! As far as eating this dish, I would blend all ingredients together and then it the whole thing!

      January 2, 2013
  5. I find that the blending of different cultures foods and traditions have expanded my love for food! I too had only Italian growing up so when I became an adult and open to this wide world of food, I wanted to try it all! I love this dish and presentation. The blending of flavors sounds perfect to me!

    December 27, 2012
    • Thank you!! Indeed coming from different cultures does open our minds and thus enriches our culinary expertise!!

      January 6, 2013
  6. Delicious recipes, looking great. I’ve given up worrying about how food is “plated” – all I’m interested in is how it works on my palate. You just know how to make things taste wonderful. Lovely post with sane sentiments that work for me.

    December 27, 2012
    • Thanks Roger!! It is important that food tastes better than its appearance. Nothing is worse than fake looking food that tastes bland!!

      January 6, 2013
  7. That is gorgeous plating!

    December 27, 2012
  8. Whatever you call it, I call it delicious! And I love this crossing over and mixing up of cultures (well, I wouldn´t have been born for a start, and then I wouldn´t be with Big Man) and all the richness of food, cluture, tradition we gain from it 🙂 Buon Anno!

    December 28, 2012
  9. An interesting post and a beautifully plated meal. Have a healthy and happy New Year! I look forward to more delicious recipes in the future.

    December 31, 2012
    • Thank you Karen! You are so sweet!! Happy New Year!

      January 6, 2013
  10. DAKOTA #

    Ciao!!! 🙂 Long time since we last were in contact! I’ll be in Italy in June. Would be fantastic to meet you in person and have a cup of coffee! 🙂

    Wishing you a happy new year!!!! 😀

    Dakota @

    January 2, 2013
    • Hi Dakota!! let me know when you are going to be in Roma! I’ll be glad to meet you!!

      January 6, 2013
  11. So true! I believe food is a culture of it’s own, too, and not just a reflection of our cultures. The dish looks very classy, something I might not even want to bite into and ruin 😉 must be a delicious fusion of cultures and flavours!

    February 26, 2013

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