It began in the 1960s, as clusters of beachside kiosks sprung up along the Peruvian coast in Lima next to the Chorrillos beach selling ceviche. Ceviche is a local dish consisting of fresh seafood marinated in lime and is Peru’s national dish. The kiosks were sponsored by the Inka Cola Company, Peru’s most popular soft drink with its emblematic bright yellow and blue colors that adorned the walls of each kiosk. As years passed, the kiosks began to coalesce as a gastronomic hub in the capital city, serving up fresh ceviche for beachgoers, fisherman and Limenos of all social classes who flocked to eat. Traditionally, fish here was always purchased in large baskets (called balayas locally) alongside the beach, but by the early 1980s, the humble collection of fisherman and vendors established a formal fish market and fisherman’s union that eventually took control of administration and development of the Chorrillos fish market and cevicherias.
The Inza family, headed by the late Mercedes Inza, began as one of these original proprietors, with his kiosk on the beach in the 1960s. Today the second generation of the Inza family includes sisters Doris and Rocio and Doris’s husband Jose, and they still serve up traditional ceviche at this spot. Yet as the fisherman’s union began to administer the market in the early 1980s, they built new stalls complete with running water, a small kitchen, and electricity. It’s in these stalls, behind the fisherman’s clubhouse and amongst other competing cevicherias, that the Inza family is located.
On any given day, you can find Doris keeping busy in the kitchen as her sister Rocio attends to customers at the small yellow tables in front. Jose keeps an eye on approaching customers to help with the limited parking amongst the bustling activity of beachgoers, vendors, and fisherman. And Doris and Jose’s two daughters go between helping with the work and playing along the beach, just as Doris and Rocio did in their youth with their father.
While the ceviche experience at the Chorrillos market will be markedly different than the uber-modern, cevicherias of Lima’s upper classes, the freshness and love the Inza family gives its dishes are unmatched. The humble ambiance is a unique experience to practices of earlier years and an authentic insight into Peru’s coastal culture.