Our last days in Peru found us coming full circle, one more day in Lima before flying home to Boston. When we finally got into our hostel, it was about 11PM on a Saturday night. Every one in the hostel was already asleep! Well, not everyone, we ended up hanging out with some folks from Australia, England, and Canada before meeting our Peru Hop tour guide to go out.
Boston isn’t New York or Tokyo. I’m used to “going out” around 10PM, and getting back by 2AM (and that’s if it’s a really crazy night). People in Lima don’t even leave the house until 1AM! We were out until 5 in the morning, with a much needed pit stop at a very Peruvian McDonald’s…
The next day, we woke up late, and wandered down to Mistura 2015 to experience Latin America’s biggest food festival.
If you haven’t already, check out my Peru master post, with my itinerary, packing list, budget, and links to all the other posts about this trip!
Luckily, we were in Lima on the last day of Mistura! Mistura is an international food festival, held along the coast of Lima every year in September. It’s a fairly young attraction, having only been founded 2008, but still draws thousands of people every year. You can purchase your tickets in advance online or at the gate. If you purchase online (like we did) you have to select the date, and then print the tickets out at a nearby grocery store with a Teleticket booth. It’s actually quite simple, so don’t be worried. Anybody that works at your hostel can give you directions. You will have to bring your confirmation though. Or, just buy tickets at the gate. It’s really easy, and there should be some decent availability.
Once you’re inside, you’ll be jostled along with a line of hungry visitors, waiting to purchase food tickets. Basically, you pay for food tickets, and then use the tickets as currency within Mistura. $70 PEN = $70 Mistura. Souvenirs and extras will still be purchased with cash or card, but all your food and drinks will be bought with the Mistura tickets. There’s $1, $3, $5, and $10 tickets, and you get change in tickets when paying for food.
What’s that? How’s the food?
In a word: absolutely deliciously fantastic. Oops…sorry.
The ceviche was fresh, the beer was cold, the pork was roasted over a giant fire pit, the bread was baked in a clay oven. My girlfriend was practically ready to leave me for a bucket of picarones. Yeah, that good. What more could you ask for? In addition to the classic Peruvian ceviche, alpaca, and lomo saltado, there was also a section of Chifa (Chinese-Peruvian food), a tent for Pisco (which I sampled in Ica) and more. Mistura is divided into different “Mundos” or worlds, for each food group. There was a huge beer hall, and then the world of meat, the world of fish, you get the idea. There were also sections of the grounds devoted to a certain region of Peru, rather than a certain food. In the “coastal” region, you had some more fish, and so on.
Another major draw to the festival itself is the Gran Mercado. The Grand Market is a massive tent in the middle of the festival, with all sorts of vendors. I was able to bring home some souvenirs for family and friends including some honey from the Andes, Peruvian chocolate, and a hot sauce made with peppers only found in the jungles of the Peruvian Amazon. Haven’t even opened it yet.
If you’re a foodie going to Peru in September, you have to make time for Mistura! My advice? Schedule Mistura on a weekday, and go early. The grounds will be much less crowded, and the food will be fresh. On evenings and weekends, you’ll be doing a lot of waiting in line, but still worth it in my opinion. You’ll spend most of the day there, for sure.
Peru has been heralded as the “next big thing” in food for a few years now. I’ve seen a few Peruvian restaurants pop up in and around Boston lately, and I can understand why. If you’re really interested, read up on the history of the Peruvian food scene. The whole story really is fascinating. Peruvians found a new cultural identity in their food, and were able to bring the country back to its feet with their recipes.
If anyone is interested in the details of Mistura, let me know! I can try and write up a bit more of the actual process, getting tickets, getting to the festival, and how to beat the lines.
The next day was bittersweet, but easy. An 8AM flight on Copa Airlines to Panama City, and then onto Boston.
Well, that wraps up my Peru trip! I can’t share enough how much I loved Peru. The country was absolutely stunning, the people were friendly, and the food was delicious. Peruvians also know they have a huge tourism industry which can be good or bad. Some people take advantage of it, while others genuinely thank you for your business as you chat with them about your adventures.
All in all, Peru is a must see destination. You could easily spend months, if not years, exploring Peru. I have a feeling you may see another Peruvian adventure on this blog in the coming years. Thanks for reading everything so far!
I left a piece of my heart in Cusco, and I plan on going back to get it some day.