Sikbaj, the Origin of Fish & Chips and Ceviche

Little known fact – sikbaj is the ancestor of ceviche and fish & chips. For two fish dishes that don’t resemble each other at all, it started out as a sweet and sour beef stew in 6th century Persia, where it was the favorite dish of Khosrau I.

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This is How It Started

This project started out when Hong had to take a summer course on food and I started reading one of his textbooks, The Language of Food: A Linguist Reads the Menu by Daniel Jurafsky. It’s actually a fascinating book that goes into various historical food oddities like how ketchup actually originated from Southeast Asia and how the word entree came into use. As I was reading a chapter on how ceviche and fish & chips originated from this medieval Arab stew that was a favorite of Shahs of the Sassanid Empire and had ballads sung about it by sailors, I was like ‘Hey this recipe is surprisingly achievable! HONGHONGHONG, WE NEED TO COOK THIS AND SING ABOUT IT.’

(Hong was down for everything up to the singing part. I will be solo-ing that part.) (I’m also doing most of the writing and Hong will be doing the – ‘Liz, that sounds really stupid, take that out’)

I’ve always been very interested in history, but for all the indirect contact I get with historical recreations, black and white photos, and diagrams, it’s not the same as if I could only have a time machine and see everything. But cooking and eating food that people actually ate historically can be something AKIN TO THAT.

And so we’re on a food time machine: cooking, cutting, and burning our way through history.

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