Intercultural

Mistura: A Taste of Peru

Sydnie Schell is a student at the University of Kentucky and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Lima, Peru.

Chefs at Mistura, Lima, Peru

Chefs at Mistura, Lima, Peru

Yes, I’ve already written an article on Peruvian food (shameless plug: check out the article Don’t Knock it Till You’ve Tried it: 7 Unique Peruvian Foods), but seriously y’all, the food here in Lima is delicious. So I’m writing about it again.

I am by no means a “foodie” (unless my unhealthy obsession with Pringles and gummy worms somehow qualifies me) but I have to tell you, I am super excited for Mistura, a food festival that takes place every September in Lima (aka the culinary capital of South America). It celebrates tradition, creativity, diversity, and most importantly Peru’s to die for food. Ten days of culinary exhibitions presented by top chefs, live music, and entertainment draws in people worldwide to sample the best of what Peru has to offer.

On Mistura’s website there is a countdown of the days, minutes, and seconds until the festival begins. As if that isn’t enough to pique my anticipation, all of the international and local students at my university alike are buzzing about the festival, asking me if I have already purchased my ticket.

I have never seen this many people so eager to go to a food festival in my life. But then it hits me; food is a powerful and integral force in our lives. It brings us together at mealtime, it shapes our daily experiences, it effects our health, and it introduces us to new cultures. The slogan for this year’s festival is even “somos todos” (we are one). It is a true international commonality. Not to mention that Mistura is one of the biggest and most prestigious food festivals in South America. So there’s no way that I’m going to miss it.

The Entrance to the Festival

The Entrance to the Festival

The hype is not inflated.

The culinary wealth of Peru is boundless; from the Amazonian dish Juanes to roasted cuy (guinea pig) from the highlands, all the way to fresh ceviche from the coast, the entire Peruvian food spectrum is represented here. Mistura, meaning mixture, blends cultures, cuisines, and geography. Various actors in the Peruvian culinary world- farmers, producers of pisco, cooks, bakers, confectioneries, huariques (little family restaurants), restaurants, cooking schools, food trucks, and commercial companies- all unite to serve nearly half a million attendees.

Sampling Quinoa Ice Cream- it’s delicious!

Sampling Quinoa Ice Cream- it’s delicious!

My personal favorite is a tie between the dessert area and artisanal breads. Who doesn’t love sweets and carbs? After trying samples of caramels, honey, quinoa ice cream, and every type of chocolate under the sun, we made our way over to the two clay ovens made from refractory bricks preparing breads such as pan chuta (a traditional Andean bread). I’m also happy to report that every croissant I’ve tried here in Peru has blown Frances’ out of the water. I don’t know how the French earned the stereotype for best croissants when clearly it should be reserved for Peru’s crescent-shaped deliciousness.

Learning about Regional Agricultural Products in the Main Market

Learning about Regional Agricultural Products in the Main Market

I made it through the day sampling way more juices, regional dishes, and desserts than is socially acceptable, but I don’t regret a single calorie.

A Mistura Food Truck

A Mistura Food Truck

Hungry to eat all of the quinoa ice cream? We know. Explore your options to study and participate in service-learning in Lima here and make it happen!