How did we see a presidential candidate, the queen of anticuchos and a famous dessert chef all in one afternoon?
All this week, Lima is hosting the 4th annual food fair downtown at the Parque de la Exposición. Simply calling this a food fair is not enough – it is truly an international gastronomic party. Founded 4 years ago by a famous Peruvian chef, Gastón Acurio, in Mistura has become the largest food fair in Latin America. It’s not just a festival of food – but more of a party where Peruvians and foreigners from various regions gather together to celebrate the traditional Peruvian cuisine to reaffirm the Peruvian identity and celebrate it’s cultural diversity.
Over the centuries, food has been associated with fiesta. For local holidays and festivals, such as Inti Raymi in Cusco, and San Juan in Iquitos, Christmas, Easter and family celebrations (weddings, birthdays, christenings) dishes are prepared using the traditional techniques and recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation. This is the spirit that dominates Mistura.
The fair brings together farmers, producers, cooks, bakers, restaurants, cooking schools, food processing companies and everything in between. Divided into types of food and regions, three, four and five star restaurants and distributed throughout the park alongside food carts and street vendors. All of the participants have to be invited to participate, and are considered the best of the best. In addition, an area of the park is devoted to a grand market, where visitors have the opportunity to buy products directly from the farmer and sometimes, products that they would not be able to get locally.
Having a free day, Billy and I decided to take advantage of everything Mistura has to offer. We spent the better part of a day wandering around the park, sampling dishes from around the country of Peru, learning about the types of pisco and the 2,000+ types of potatoes grown here, and basically just trying as much as we possibly could. And, we even managed to run into a few famous types – Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, a presidential candidate from the recent election, the Doña Grimanesa Vargas, the queen of anticuchos (she sells them on the street corner to hundreds and hundreds of people waiting each night), and Astrid Gutsche, the famous dessert chef.
Billy and the famous Doña Grimanesa. She sells her anticuchos on the street corner to hundreds and hundreds of people each night. They line up for hours waiting to buy her anticuchos.
Billy and me at the end of the day.
Want to see more photos from Mistura? They are on Flickr.