Costa Rican Ceviche Inspired by the Memoir 'Wide-Open World'

Costa Rican Ceviche Inspired by the Memoir 'Wide-Open World'

Wednesday, 25 August, 2021

Food and drinks are some of the easiest ways — and the most fun— to vicariously experience another culture. When you add a great book to the mix, you've got the makings of a perfect evening. In Food+Fiction, we recommend a delicious read and a related recipe so you can try the taste of different destinations in your own kitchen.

This post is part of our Food+Fiction series.


It’s a paradox of this human life: Sometimes, the best way to find your way home is to take yourself to far-flung places. That’s just what the Marshall family did when they took off around the world.

Author John Marshall and his wife, married for 20 years, had long dreamt about traveling the world — a daunting proposition when their family grew to four. A flurry of research led them to an unusual solution: They’d volunteer for a year in different spots around the globe, bonding as a family and collecting shared experiences along the way. Their first stop was at a wildlife center tucked amidst 700 acres of rainforest in Costa Rica. This and their other adventures (in New Zealand, India, and the Himalayas) are documented in the inspiring memoir Wide-Open World.

Our stay in Costa Rica was decidedly less selfless and far more indulgent than that; you can hear a bit about it in the Costa Rica episode of our podcast. We stayed with friends at a beach house and spent a lot of time lolling about. When we weren’t strolling on the beach or playing board games, we were eating: eggs and plantains, chicken marinated in Lizard Sauce and grilled, black beans and rice at the open-air café down the street.

One day, Carlina, the caretaker, taught us her personal recipe for Costa Rican ceviche, and we’re sharing it with you.

We were surprised when we saw her add a secret ingredient — ginger ale. But we couldn’t argue with the results. The ceviche was fresh and flavorful, light and bright, with the perfect bite of lime — plus, a gentle fizz and zing from the carbonated ginger.

If you’ve never made ceviche yourself, give it a shot. The magic is in the lime juice that ‘cooks’ the fish, transforming it in a way that makes it melt in your mouth while it simultaneously dances on your tongue.

 woman chopping vegetables in a kitchen
Photo courtesy of David Humphreys.

ceviche in a small stone bowl
Photo courtesy of ChrisPaynePhoto/Shutterstock.

Costa Rican Ceviche

Serves 2-4. Prep time 15 minutes. Marinate 30-minutes up to overnight.


  • 1 pound of raw corvina (white sea bass or other firm white fish), cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice (enough juice to completely cover and “cook” the fish)
  • 2 medium red bell peppers, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of ginger ale
  • 1/2 cup of club soda
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • garnish: lettuce, avocado, cucumber, tortilla chips


Prep the ceviche. Combine all the ingredients in a large glass bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and allow the fish to ‘cook’ in the marinade for at least 30 minutes. It tastes best after 6-8 hours and is phenomenally good on the second day.

To serve, pile on a bed of lettuce with sliced avocado, cucumber slices, fried plantains or plaintain chips, and, if you’re feeling particularly Costa Rican, a healthy splash of Salsa Lizano or homemade Lizard Sauce.


We wouldn’t just be sightseeing. We’d be helping. Instead of impersonal hotels and budget restaurants, we’d be in communities where we were needed, making connections to local people, eating with them, living with them. Some people report having their lives forever altered by a single week of overseas service. So what could a whole year do? — John Marshall

Wide-Open World

by John Marshall

If you’ve ever daydreamed about ditching the everyday to travel around the world — and wondered how you could afford it — this book offers very compelling ideas which potential payoffs beyond your wildest dreams. Author John Marshall and his wife had been married for 20 years — with a teenage son and daughter and all the other responsibilities that come free-with-purchase when you’re an adult. They’d always had a dream to travel the world as a family, and the time to make that happen was ticking out. This honestly written, funny, and moving memoir tells the story of their six months exploring the world and their family dynamics. {more}

This memoir (352 pages) was published in February of 2015 by Ballantine Books. The book takes you to a monkey sanctuary in Costa Rica. David read Wide-Open World and loved it; it wouldn't be on our site if he didn't recommend it.


Wide-Open World: How Volunteering Around the Globe Changed One Family's Lives Forever


Top image courtesy of Curioso.Photography/Shutterstock.

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keep reading

Costa Rica offers a sweet combination of chill (sunny beaches, pura vida) and action (volcanoes! ziplining! surfing!). Join us on a virtual trip to Central America and prepare to blow up your TBR with great books.
Costa Rican meals are usually a rainbow of fruits and veggies with rice and black beans making an appearance on almost every plate. This comfort food is gussied up with the ubiquitous elixir known as Salsa Lizano.
Brilliant green birds and sweet-faced sloths. Turquoise blue water and treetop hotels. Fried plantains and ceviche. The photos on these Instagram accounts are everything you need to fully understand the pura vida.
This weekend, we recommend a getaway to the lush landscape of Costa Rica: glorious sunshine, azure-blue water, and dazzling foliage. Pay no attention to the many ravenous, angry dinosaurs roaming the jungle.

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