1 Ceviche, 2 Ceviche, 3 Ceviche – More

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By Annita Thomas, on-air radio host of Travel Bags With Annita & Friends

(Disclosure: The trip described in the article below was sponsored by Cancun CVB and the businesses listed in the article. However, their sponsorship does not influence the honesty of comments or reviews of the writer.)

A long tray with a pile of cubed fish and shrimp sat on a table-top across the room from where I was standing. I did a double take and noticed that yes, it is ceviche. My first taste of this savory, citrus and cilantro flavored fish dish was years ago on a trip with Pan Am Airways to South America. Our host offered a sample of the dish and explained it was raw fish cooked with the juice of several lemons.

This southern girl was skeptical of such a dish, “How can you cook fish using lemons?” My thoughts were fish should be cooked in the oven or a cast-iron frying pan – and after cooking add citrus.

After a few urges to try it, my first cautious nibble was a bite filled with a wonderfully delicious combination of citrus, mildly hot peppers, tomatoes, various seafood (octopus, shrimp, and fish) and garnished with what I call my happy flavors – cilantro and onions. (I could include those two in any and all dishes.)

It was love at the first crunchy bite. Eaten with a crispy, toasted bread square, I thought there was an explosion of flavors in my mouth. After that first experience, I sought to find tasty versions of what I have come to consider a fresh, lite option to a big meal.

photo-4-e1411780609741-300x224On this day, I was attending the TBEX conference at the Moon Palace Resorts in Cancun, Mexico. The Ceviche prepared in a milky white clam shell with a bit of fluffy foam on top was delicious. The chef shared that he added a touch of beer on top once he placed the spoon-sized portion in the shell. The colorful spoonful of ceviche deliciousness was also beautiful to admire. The red, green, light brown and beige colors of the ingredients signaled a yummy bite and the smell of cilantro filled the area.

Confession: I grabbed three, and the fizzy feeling of the beer in my mouth made it, even more, delicious. My first Ceviche in Mexico and it proved to be the inspiration to search for my next bite. As I walked away, I turned to look again at the plate, filled with yummy, fuzzy, beer infused Ceviche bites. I thought, “I can stay right here and snack all day. No need to attend any sessions. Isn’t this the real reason I’m here?”

Several days later, I am on the road again, but not too far away from the tasty ceviche – in distance and taste buds memory.

I am off on a trip to Isla Holbox, located on the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula. Few tourists visit this charming island known for excellent fishing. Like a step back in time, Holbox (pronounced HOL-bahsh) with its sandy streets and friendly residents, comes alive as fishing boats with long bamboo poles jutting out over the bow, race out to sea each morning as the sun sends a warm golden glow from behind puffy clouds.

We arrived and quickly gathered our luggage onto golf carts and chatted back and forth about who would drive the dusty vehicles and maneuver the bumpy, sandy streets. We were off in a snap, hair blowing in the wind, suitcases bouncing heavily on our laps and quick stops at a corner for carts to pass. Another stop brought a cart filled with laughing children and a mother with colorful bags perfectly balanced in a wooden frame on the front hood. Taxi drivers zipped by in yellow buggies, with slow paces and glancing faces, looking for anyone in need of a ride.

Our first meal is at Las Nubes de Holbox Hotel. Seated beside Barbara, one of the owners of the hotel, I leaned forward as a long tray with a colorful dish topped with avocado was delivered to our table. A closer look and my heart jumped – it is Ceviche!

The soft, creamy avocado and the salty taste of fish mixed with all the chopped and cubed ingredients marinated in fresh lime juice, created a sophisticated and elegant dish. I topped it off with the sweet, and sour flavors of a Tamarindo Margarita served in a glass with the rim gently dipped in pepper.


A large spoonful placed on my plate was quickly scooped up and eaten, leaving a feeling of contentment and satisfaction from having a second chance to enjoy this delightful dish.

The next morning we were up early for a tour with V.I.P. Holbox.  Owner Willi Torfer met us at the door ready to start our day of fishing and snorkeling. On our boat with Captain Mushu (Pablo Avila Arguelles) and fishing guide Gustavo (Gustavo Morett), we settled in with anticipation and excited glances around to take in the view. With a powerful roar from the twin 60hp engines and splashes of salt water settling on our faces, we were off across the turquoise water.

After an hour of plop, plop across the ocean waves, we reached a spot to start fishing. Captain Mushu and Gustavo prepared the lines, and the fish started biting.

Giggles and roars filled the air as we pulled in fish after fish, after fish. They continued to flip and flop around, and we moved on to another area for a quick snorkel. Our multi-colored life-vests dotted the water with green, yellow, red and blue. With faces down in the water, we looked like crayons floating around.

I looked over, and Captain Mushu cut and de-boned the fish we had just caught. The sharp knife slid across each fish with precision, creating the perfect filet. In a fascinating process of preparing the fish, they are all done, and we’re off to the next stop.

Pelicans flew ahead and beside us like a squadron of airplanes in formation; leading the way to a sand bar with hundreds of shore birds basking in the sun and standing still as though they were models posing in an artist studio. Feeding and taking in the scene, they appeared unconcerned with the bright colored boat gliding across the water. The engines settled down to a gentle roar, and my attention is drawn away from the birds to Gustavo and Captain Mushu. I asked myself: “Are they cutting the fish into cubes? Could that possibly be Ceviche; a third serving in less than a week?” Mouth watering and eyes fixed, the smell of mangrove trees and salt water mixed forming the perfect atmosphere for Ceviche so fresh, the fish were just jumping!


Gustavo mixed the citrus marinated cubed fish with tomatoes, onions and cilantro as the smell of fresh limes lingered in the air. He served bowls heaped with creamy white fish, speckled with red, green and purple veggies along with crispy, salty tortilla chips.

Yum! Ceviche number three and I was floating in a culinary haze topped off with a warm breeze and the gentle rocking of our boat. I was relaxed and taking in the full essence of the moment – I was eating a favorite dish, and I caught some of the fish. A real WOW moment!

That night on a call to my husband Doc Bill, I breathlessly described my day on the beautiful sea green water. My excitement not lost on him – he jumped right in with a description of his recipe for Ceviche. Without much prompting, he promised a long tray, filled with creamy white fresh fish, cut into cubes and cooked with extra lime. He knew if he added extra onions and cilantro, my happiness would bring a huge smile and big hugs. Pure joy – I have had one, two, three ceviche dishes – and there will be more.





Doc Bill’s Ceviche

This simple recipe is quick, flavorful and a great option for eating lite.

Gather fresh vegetables and sashimi quality fish and start chopping.

1½ pound of fresh sashimi quality saltwater fish

Cut into cubes

Add ¼ cup of fresh lime or lemon juice

Add ½ teaspoon of sea salt

Chop and add one tablespoon of cilantro (add more or less based on taste)

Mix well and refrigerate for four hours

Toss chopped tomatoes, onions, and peppers and mix well

Add more cilantro for garnish

Serve it up to the hungry crowd!

Consumption of raw seafood is not recommended for pregnant woman or persons with compromised immune systems.


Excursions and accommodations on Isla Holbox

Fishing, Whale Shark Excursions, and Snorkeling

VIP Holbox Experience – www.vipholbox.com





Hacienda La Catrina located on Isla Holbox

Hacienda La Catrina – www.catrinaholbox.com



Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox – www.hotellasnubesdeholbox.com

Hotel Las Nubes de Holbox



Hotel Casa Sandra – www.casasandra.com

Hotel Casa Sandra



Accommodations in Cancun

Moon Palace Resorts – www.moonpalacecancun.com




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