At Lima, Peru’s annual gastronomic festival Mistura you see some odd products. In the events Gran Mercado, three hundred and fifty artisanal producers from every corner of the country are selling everything from chocolate and pisco to roasted sacha inchi seeds, as well as a rainbow of colorful quinoas and native potatoes.
I first discovered Enrique Olvera at Mistura, Lima’s annual gastronomy festival, a few years ago. He gave a presentation on Mexican food that echoed many of the same sentiments I was seeing in Peru about rediscovering native ingredients. He seemed cool too. Not in the least bit cocky, as many Latin American chefs can be. Pujol has been on the top of my Mexico City restaurant list ever since. The restaurant is now a decade old as Olvera opened it right after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Mistura, a gastronomy festival held in Lima every September since 2008, is an identity feast. Gastronomy in Peru has many layers of hidden meanings, it is not just about the food. In her acclaimed documentary Mistura:The power of food, director Patricia Perez sets out to discover what these deeper meanings might be, and she does a wonderful job in doing so.
Lima, Peru’s annual food festival, Mistura, is currently under way in the Parque de la Expocision. This year’s event has attracted the likes of culinary icons like Ferran Adria of El Bulli and Rene Redezipi of Copenhagen’s Noma. Regardless of the big names and special decrees issued to the world, the more than 300,000 attendees come for the food.
Mistura is Lima, Peru’s annual gastronomic festival. Now in its 3rd year, the festival is running for longer and attracting bigger names than in its previous incarnations.
While I travel around Peru fairly regularly and have probably eaten a wider range of Peruvian restaurants more than anyone on earth, Mistura was a revelation. Getting around Peru and sampling different restaurants takes time, but Mistura brings some of the better ones from across the different regions to one location. There were chefs, restaurants, and street stalls from Lima, Arequipa, Tarapoto, Trujillo, Tacna, and elsewhere that I had ever heard of. Some vendors served obscure or classic regional dishes, while others saw talented chefs altering Peruvian classics in funky new ways.
The wait for food at Mistura ranges from just a minute or two to more than an hour. While you can get food from the majority of vendors in less than 20 minutes, there are a few with lines that grow longer by the day because of word of mouth getting out about their particular dishes. El Grifo’s Fettucines a la Huancaina has created the most buzz in my opinion, though many of the more simple and rustic vendors are drawing huge crowds as we
This year’s Mistura is dedicated to the Potato, el papa. The entrance to the festival’s Gran Mercado has a display labeling roughly 500 types of Peruvian potatoes. They are red, blue, white, yellow, black, purple, and even multicolored. If you walk further into the market you will find cooperatives of vendors, most of them in traditional garb from the region they live, and baskets and bags of the potatoes from their respective regions. The potatoes being sold from Puno are completely different from the potatoes being sold from Huancayo. The shapes are different, the colors are different, the sizes are different, and the flavors are different.
The food being served at Lima, Peru’s 3rd annual Mistura Gastronomic Fair is broken up into 15 Eating Sections:
As I sat in a conference listening to Sonia Bahamonde of the cult cebicheria Sonia in Chorrillos speak to a closed room of Latin American reporters, along with her husband Fredy and daughter who is also named Sonia, a sort of hubbub came from outside. Shouts of “Gaston, Gaston” rang out and came closer. Soon Gaston Acurio, Peru’s most famous chef and the organizer of Mistura, walked in the door. He stood to one side of the room, certain not to interrupt one of his culinary idols. He was just catching his breath it seemed.