When you travel to Peru, are you looking for a new, exciting –and palatable– way to discover Peruvian culture? Follow the trail of aromas and exotic flavors to Latin America’s largest food festival, Mistura. A week-long gastronomic microcosm with no equal, it is a feast of colors and diversity, and a true celebration of the land’s treasures and delectably unique cuisine.
The gastronomic extraordinaire, to be held September 7 to 16 in Peru’s bustling capital, Lima, will include the participation of celebrated star chefs such as Spain’s Eneko Atxa, Joaquim Casademont and Joan Roca, South Korea’s Sang Hoon Degeimbre, Australia’s Peter Gilmore, Italy’s Massimo Bottura as well as Peru’s culinary visionary and Latin America’s premier chef, Gaston Acurio.
Various renowned Peruvian luxury restaurants will offer tasters of their singular dishes and delicacies –such as alpaca meat, ceviche (fish marinated in lime juice and ají, the Peruvian hot pepper), pachamanca (meats and vegetables cooked in the ground over hot stones), carapulcra stew, trout, and cuy, or guinea pig, confit–, incomparable desserts and exotic fruits such as the copoazú, which is used to make white chocolate. Travel to Peru would be incomplete without savoring some of these restaurant’s irresistible entrées, which include black clams, skewers of anticucho, or tender cubes of beef heart, papa a la huancaina (potato drenched in a spicy cheese sauce), causa (yellow potato topped with seafood), and rocoto relleno, a Peruvian appreciation of thestuffed chili pepper.
The originality of Peru’s gastronomy stems not only from its traditional Inca and Amazonian culinary heritage –later broadened by Arab, African, Italian, Chinese and Japanese cultures –, but from its capacity to develop new creations and styles, such as Novo Andean cuisine. This international culinary force arose with the rediscovery of indigenous flavors and ingredients –cereals, tubers, herbs, fruits– combined with the techniques of elite and modern European cuisine. Cordon Bleu-certified chef Emmanuel Piqueras, who stands at the forefront of the innovative and dynamic Novo Andean cuisine movement in Manhattan, will travel to Peru to attend Mistura 2012.
In addition to the farmer’s market, where travelers can appreciate Inca native grains, herbs, cheese, meats and an infinite selection of potatoes, the festival offers non-stop cooking demonstrations, films and conferences. A special area is dedicated to chocolate and other sweets, another to coffee and yet another to Pisco, a colorless or yellowish-to-amber colored grape brandy made from a single distillation in Peru’s dry coastal valleys. Inextricably linked to the country’s identity and heritage, pisco is used to shake up the Andean country’s national drink, pisco sour. Other novel pisco-based cocktails and concoctions –all served at the Mistura fair– include “The Captain” (with red vermouth), macerados (with infusions of fruits, roots and herbs), passion fruit sour, and coca leaf chilcanos.
Mistura is a great way to embark on an unforgettable culinary journey and discover why Lima is often referred to as the Gastronomic Capital of Latin America. In addition to the festival, those who travel to Peru can treat themselves to Lima’s best luxury restaurants, which include Malabar, Rafael, La Gloria, and Brujas de Cachiche. It’s just one more good reason to linger in the Lima, the “City of Kings”, before taking off to Machu Picchu.