Mistura is the largest gastronomic food fair in Latin America. It is organized by Apega, Peruvian Association of Gastronomy, and it takes place in Lima in September. Every September it is the topic of all conversations: “Did you go to Mistura?”, “Should you go to Mistura?”, “What did you eat?”, “Which restaurants were represented there?” “Who were invited to speak?”, and so on. Magazines and newspapers are loaded with Mistura related articles, chef interviews, tips and recipes. Peruvians are proud of their culinary traditions, and Mistura is considered as an important part of it: as a showcase of what exists and an arena to explore the new trends and to connect with the culinary world outside of Peru. Every year there are international guest stars, for example this year, one of the invites was Carlo Petrini, the leader of the international slow food movement. This year’s big news was that Apega and Slow Food have signed an agreement which aims to push the biodiversity agenda both in Peru and overall in Latin America. Great news!
But what do people eat there? It was not difficult to find out where to find the largest crowds: one just had to follow the smoke signs. Year after year, the most popular dish of Mistura is chancho al palo, pork grilled outside on racks over firepits. The portions of this crusty, red-laqcuered pork were served with bean stew, boiled yucca and marinated turnip.
In the photo below you see a real size paiche.
On the sweet side, quite a few stands were offering traditional Pervian sweets such as picarones, doughnuts made of sweet potato and squash and usually served hot with sweet chancaca syrup.
I met also Giorgio from Roselen, who let me try some of their new flavors: I detected mint, caramel, coffee, ginger...
There were beautiful papas nativas...
Honey and coffee were also very well represented. I tried honey with pollen which is said to be very healthy, but ended up buying just normal honey, from Oxapampa region. And algarrobina, which is that cream coloured powder on those glass jars in the picture below. The powder (or syrup) comes from Black Carob tree. I have for now assisted enough baby and bridal showers to know the sweet cocktail of algarrobina. It’s known here as “the ladies drink”, and it is a combination of algarrobina, egg yolk, pisco, milk, sugar and cinnamon. But here I tried it for the first time as a hot drink, just mixed with hot water (can use milk, too), and it tasted like a sweet latte. Except, no caffeine, and lots of protein and vitamins. Had to buy one of those, too.
But thise coffee stand from Oxapampa was a refreshing exception: it was like a little coffee shop.
That’s it, for this year!