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Mistura Food Festival: Peru’s Biggest Epicurean Event

Foodies find paradise at the Mistura Food Festival, Peru’s annual culinary festival. Learn more about the when, where, and what of this popular gastronomic event.
by Gina Cronin

The Mistura Food Festival is not only the largest culinary festival in South America, but it’s also a huge achievement for Lima. Over the past 10-20 years, the city has emerged as the place to go for high quality, inventive fusion food. As far as Lima Peru events, this is one of the most anticipated. The annual 10-day festival is a time when Peru shares its love of food with the world. And for travelers, it is widely recognized as one of the best places to try flavor-infused dishes created by leading Peruvian chefs.

History of the Mistura Food Festival 

Mistura started in 2008 and was born as a way to celebrate the gastronomic achievements of Peru. This fair has helped put Lima on the map when it comes to world-class, epicurean cuisine. The significance of the word Mistura mixture in Portuguese – dates back to Peru’s Viceroyalty during the 1500s, when it was used to refer to a mixed bouquet of flowers given out during holidays. 

In its first year, Mistura Peru drew 30,000 attendees, and in later years drew as many as 600,000 visitors over the course of its 10 days. In more recent years, there has been a bit of reduced attendance, especially when the event moved to Rimac rather than the centrally-located, coastal Costa Verde of Lima in 2017. This event drew approximately 300,000 festival-goers. In 2018, it was slated to move back to the Costa Verde, but its dates were delayed and ultimately it did not take place. In 2019, it was announced that it would take place. The dates were delayed several times, and it was later announced that it would take place in Arequipa or Trujillo rather than Lima. Ultimately, it did not take place in 2019 either, and any potential plans for 2020 were halted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Overview 

  • Venue: Costa Verde, Lima 
  • Date: Festival typically takes place late August or early September. No 2020 dates in the works due to COVID. 2021 dates TBD.
  • Event Type: Peruvian food festival 
  • Serving: Ceviche, anticuchos, causa, rocoto relleno, tamales, soups, sandwiches, Chifa (Peruvian/Chinese fusion), aji de gallina, cuy, chocolate, coffee, picarones and more. 
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Frequency: Annual 
  • Since: 2008 

What is Mistura? 

The Mistura Food Festival is where acclaimed chefs, humble street cart vendors, established restaurants (and new ones too) all rent space, and serve their Peruvian culinary creations. This impressive showcase of Peruvian cuisine features dishes from the coast, to the mountains to the depths of the Amazon jungle. Attendees can browse the explosion of food offerings, and sample in half (S/.7 or $2 US) or full portions (S/.13 or $5 US). Traditional Peruvian dishes include ceviche, aji de gallina, and cuy (guinea pig) marinated in spices and slowly baked to perfection. Popular fusion options blend native ingredients with international flavors and cooking techniques as well. Daily food-related activities range from panel discussions to culinary competitions, and often there is entertainment and live concerts at night. 

When is the Mistura Food Festival? 

Typically, Mistura takes place late August or early September and lasts 10 days. Though there are no 2020 or 2021 dates at this time, it is likely to restore to these months upon continuation. 

Highlights 

Every edition of the festival brings something new to Mistura. Aside from the explosion of national food of Peru on offer, here are some highlights from past events, to give an idea of what to expect: 

Annual Theme

The theme changes each year, but some past themes include Peru’s Biodiversity and Nutrition, Regional Cuisine, Healthy Eating, and more. There have also been several guest countries in past years sampling their mouthwatering cuisine alongside the Peruvian selections. These have included Indonesia, Mexico, India, Morocco, and more. 

El Gran Mercado 

This market is always a highlight of Mistura. It is here that farmers and small producers find their voice, selling a variety of natural products and fresh produce. You’ll find vegetables and fruits from throughout Peru, along with some of the thousands of native potatoes. Well-known chefs also give cooking demonstrations at El Gran Mercado and expert bakers produce all types of bread.

Pisco Tent

Head over to the Pisco Tent, another perennial favorite, for an introduction to Peru’s favorite liqueur distilled from grapes. Watch grape-stomping dance demonstrations or try a handcrafted pisco sour. The pisco sour is flavored with lime juice, triple sec, and topped with an egg white foam. Vineyards will have stalls where inquisitive drinkers can buy a tasting and browse bottles of pisco available for purchase.

Food Stalls

And of course, perhaps the favorite part for most visitors, are the food stalls. From anticucherias (anticuchos) to huariques (traditional family-run restaurants) to picanterias (traditional Arequipa cuisine) to carretilleros (typical Lima street food carts), there are so many amazing items to try. 

Mistura Cuisine 

If you’re wondering “what do people eat in Peru?” look no further than the Mistura festival to have all your questions answered. A visit to this food celebration is the perfect opportunity to explore all of the different types of food in Peru in one place. 

Appetizers

Start your food quest with some of Peru’s most beloved appetizers. Anticuchos, or marinated cow heart kebabs on skewers, is a popular one for meat lovers. Tamales, that savory cornmeal delight wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaves; papa a la huancaina, boiled potatoes smothered in a creamy aji amarillo (yellow pepper sauce); and causa, a layered potato/tuna casserole are great ones to try.  

Soups

Soups and broths might not sound like the most exciting eats, but that’s because you haven’t tasted a flavorful chupe de camarones or a hearty Inchicapi (Amazonian stew based on chicken and peanuts). In fact, traditional Peruvian cooking probably finds its most comforting form in its delicious caldos, lawas, chupes, sancochados, and sopas.

Entrees

Now start digging into some entree favorites. Ceviche, the iconic raw fish with lime dish is a must-try as it is the national dish of Peru. This is also a good opportunity to try rocoto relleno, or Peruvian stuffed peppers; Chifa, or Peruvian/Chinese fusion; or, for adventurous diners, cuy, or fried guinea pig. Daily favorites like aji de gallina (shredded chicken in a creamy pepper sauce) and lomo saltado (beef, tomato, red onion and french fries in soy sauce) are also on offer. 

Beverages

Peru’s famous cocktail, the Pisco Sour will be available alongside chilcanos (pisco, lime, ginger ale) and maybe even a colorful Machu Picchu (pisco with grenadine, orange juice and crème de menthe). You will also be able to find chicha morada, a popular non-alcoholic refreshment made with Peruvian purple corn. Warm drinks like coffee and emoliente are also available. 

Sweets

Don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth. Though Lima and Peru at large is known for its savory creations, there are some Peruvian sweets and desserts that are not to be missed. Try the picarones, Peruvian dripped donuts with a chancaca syrup. Or, sample churros, tejas (chocolate truffles from the Peruvian desert), crema volteada and much more. 

Specialty Products

Cacao, chocolate, medicinally-infused liqueurs, and coffee often share a pavilion at the festival. These specialty items are also important traditional foods in Peru. None other than chef Astrid Gutsche (from Lima’s top restaurant Astrid y Gaston) led the effort to call attention to the sheer number of cacao varieties cultivated in 16 different regions of Peru. Attendees have a chance to taste samples and learn more about coffee and cacao production.

Attending the Mistura Food Festival 

You can plan to align your Peru travel plans with the Mistura Food Festival. Though no future dates are currently set, once they are you can connect with a travel advisor and plan your trip to Lima to coincide with this famous food festival. The only guideline at Mistura is to show up with an empty stomach. Perusing the festival grounds, you can enjoy enticing flavors while also learning about regional specialties. Nowhere else can you come by so many Peruvian food options in one place.

Other Gastronomic Experiences in Lima

Since there are no Mistura events currently scheduled (crossing our fingers for new dates soon!), there are plenty of other ways to savor Peruvian cuisine while in Lima. 

Culinary Tours

Whether it’s a walking tour of the street carts in the historic center of lima, a stroll to excellent dining establishments in the artsy Barranco district, or a night on the town stopping at the hottest restaurants in Miraflores and San Isidro, there is an option just for you. On these tours you’ll be able to sample anywhere from 13-21 Peruvian classics, including, but not limited to, causa, ceviche, lomo saltado, regional coffee and pisco sour. You’ll also likely sample some native Peruvian fruits, like lucuma, chirimoya and aguaymanto. 

Cooking classes

With a cooking class, not only can you indulge in delicious Peruvian cuisine day-of, you can take that knowledge and those recipes home with you to enjoy again and again. Learn to make favorites like ceviche, lomo saltado, papa la la huancaina, pisco sours and much more. You will have guidance from an expert Peruvian chef, and be able to enjoy your meal and try things as you go. 

Top Lima Restaurants

There are so many incredible restaurants in Lima that showcase the amazing diversity of food offered up in Peru. Lima is truly one of the gastronomic capitals of the world. Top restaurants include Central, Maido, Astrid and Gaston and much more. See our Lima Restaurant Guide for a complete listing with cuisine type, locations and hours. 

A visit to Lima is the perfect occasion to enjoy the best cuisine in the country. Even if your time in the city doesn’t coincide with Mistura Food Festival, your travel advisor can organize an amazing culinary tour for you. Contact us today to start planning your trip.