Mistura – Fería Gastronómica Internacional de Lima
Posted September 14, 2010on:
Mistura is an International Food Festival that took place in Lima from September 7 to 12. This was the 3rd year of the festival, which began in 2008. The festival features Perú’s top chefs and cuisine along with international guests. This year’s guest country was Spain.
There was a lot of publicity and hype about Mistura here in Lima and, never having experienced it before, I thought it would be a good idea to go. The tickets to enter cost S/.15 if you bought them ahead of time or S/.20 on the day of the event. About a week and a half in advance we checked on-line but all the pre-sale tickets were sold out. So, that meant we would have to buy tickets the day we went, which was last Saturday.
The festival was held in Parque de la Exposición, a large park in the center of Lima. Tickets could be purchased starting at 10am on the day of the event at Centro Civico, a large mall near the park . Luis works Saturday mornings so we didn’t arrive until 1:00pm. When we got there I couldn’t believe it, the line to buy tickets was enormous. It spanned about three blocks. Had I known how long it was going to take I probably wouldn’t have waited, but after waiting for 2 hours I wasn’t about to give up and leave empty-handed. In the end, we waited for 4 hours just to buy tickets to enter. There were a lot of people selling reventas (scalped tickets) for S/.35 but Luis said they were not very nice people and that we couldn’t be sure if the tickets were real… so we waited.
There were a few incidents in the line as the people became restless and the scalpers tried to enter multiple times to buy more tickets. Finally they instituted a system of giving everyone in line a piece of pink paper that you had to show in order to enter to buy the tickets. The crazy part was that they only had two cashiers selling the tickets. This is one of the area where Peru really needs to improve… organization. They are not very good at implementing systems and handling logistics. There is no way that people should have had to wait in line for 4 hours to buy tickets for this event. Hopefully next year they will make improvements to the system.
Anyway, after we finally bought our entrance tickets, we hopped on a shuttle bus that took us to the entrance. We entered at about 5:30pm. When we entered we could hardly move as there were so many people. We had a map of the grounds and were trying to figure out where to go. Food could be purchased in stalls, kind of like at the PNE, or in “restaurants”. The food in stalls included Tradiciones (traditional food) and Cocinas Rústicas (Rustic Cuisine). Rustic cuisine is cooked using a variety of methods such as Barril Cooking, Caja China, Pachmanca and Pork on the Stake, as shown in the photo.
The restaurants weren’t really like sit-down restaurants but rather food provided by some of the top restaurants from around Peru, but still from a stall. All the restaurants were located in two rows some distance away from the entrance so we decided to check it out in the hopes that it would be less crowded.
Now we waited in more lines. First, we had to buy tickets to use to purchase food. Tickets could be bought for S/.3, S/.6 and S/.12 and the price of food varied at each restaurant. A full meal was S/.12, a half order, appetizer or dessert was S/.6 and drinks were S/.3. This method of selling tickets in one place was probably a good idea so that each vendor didn’t have to deal with cash. The line-up top buy the tickets actually wasn’t that bad.
The line-ups for the restaurants varied. Luis was very hungry so we started out by going to the place that seemed to have the shortest line. It was called El Tarwi and served food from the Andes region. We ordered chicharrón (fried pork) which was served with camote (sweet potato), mote (large, whitish-colored corn), humita (a type of sweet tamale), canchita (crunchy Peruvian ‘unpopped’ popcorn) and cebolla con ají (onions with ají) It was pretty good, but we were still hungry.
Next, we went to the place with the longest line-up. It was called El Grifo and the people said that it was one of the best restaurants there. We ordered Fettuccinis a la Huancaina con Lomo and Cheesecake de Toblerone. We had to wait for about an hour but it was worth the wait. The food was really good. A very unique Peruvian style fettuccine and one of the best desserts I have had here in Peru. While we were waiting in line we took the opportunity to try a Pisco Sour from Huaringas Bar. They are supposedly famous for their drinks, each of which cost S/.12, a little expensive, but we got souvenir cups to take home. The drink was really good and helped us relax after a long day of standing in lines.
By this point we were getting a little full but we still had a few tickets left to use up. So, we ordered a Causa from La Preferida and Suspiro de Chocolate from La Huaca Pucllana (the restaurant where we got engaged). We also tried a few more pisco sours in the Rincón de Pisco.
Apart from the Rincón de Pisco, there was the Rincón de Cafe and the Rincón de Chocolate. These were pavilions that you entered and could try free tasters and buy various products. In addition to selling all types of food and food products at the festival there were also demonstrations and shows at various times throughout the day. We didn’t get to see any of those as we arrived late and spent the entire time either in a line to get food, drinking or eating!
Mistura is an interesting experience and a good way to try a variety of cuisines at a price this is less expensive than you would normally pay in a lot of the participating restaurants. However, I definitely recommend you plan ahead, buy tickets in advance and be prepared to wait for your food and drinks!