Mistura is not only the largest culinary festival in South America, 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. 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.
Mistura 2017, for its 10th-anniversary edition, will try out a brand new venue, moving from the Costa Verde to Club Revolver in the district of Rimac. According to the festival organizers APEGA, the Rimac district, which borders the Lima Historic Center, was chosen because it epitomizes the criollo or mixed heritage of Peru, a heritage which draws from indigenous, European, African, and Asian roots. The event is expected to draw more than 400,000 visitors.
This year’s theme focuses on the incredible biodiversity of Peru and the infinite creativity of its chefs. Just imagine. The national pantry is well stocked with nutritionally dense native crops such as quinoa, maca, legumes, potatoes, and kiwicha, as well as a bounty of tropical fruits from the Amazon and seafood from the Pacific Ocean. The possibilities are million-fold and Peruvian cooks, be they specialists in gourmet cuisine or genuises of street food snacks, have excelled in the challenge.
The only guideline is to show up to Mistura with an empty stomach. Perusing the festival grounds, you can search for familiar favorites or enticing new flavors while also learning more about each region’s specialties. Nowhere else can you come by so many Peruvian food options in one place.
Acclaimed chefs, humble street cart vendors, established restaurants, and new ones too, all rent space at Mistura and serve their culinary creations 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. Equally popular fusion options blend native ingredients with international flavors and cooking techniques.
El Gran Mercado 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 give cooking demonstrations at El Gran Mercado and expert bakers produce all types of bread.
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. This famous cocktail 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.
Every edition of the festival brings something new at Mistura. This year’s highlights:
Cacao, chocolate, and coffee will share a pavilion at the festival. None other than chef Astrid Gutsche (from Lima’s top restaurant Astrid y Gaston) is leading this effort to call attention to the sheer number of cacao varieties cultivated in 16 different regions of Peru. Attendees will have a chance to taste samples and learn more about coffee and cacao production.
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. Head over to this pavilion and give the goodness a try.
Guest country Indonesia has been invited to share its fascinating gastronomic customs and traditions with Peruvians and international attendees. If you haven’t been to Indonesia, visit this pavilion for a bit of vicarious sampling, and if you have been, then go re-live some culinary memories. Guest chef Vania Wibisono will be whipping up healthy renditions of Indonesian dishes like satay and rendang. Yum.
Daily food-related activities range from panel discussions to culinary competitions, and often there is entertainment and live concerts at night.
Photos provided by Mistura/Apega
Mistura did not take place in 2018. Event organizers are busy restructuring the culinary event to make it even better and more yummy. Dates for Mistura 2019 are to be announced.
A visit to Lima is the perfect occasion to enjoy the best cuisine the country. Even if your time in the city doesn’t coincide with Mistura, your travel advisor can organize an amazing culinary tour for you. Click “Go Discover” now.
Peru for Less is a group of travel experts who live, work, eat, and breathe all things South America. Their inspiration stems from a deep appreciation for the beauty and diversity that make this continent so special.