Gastronomic events are spreading around the world, but Mistura food festival is something else: a cultural feast beyond compare, this year, some 600,000 people attended the 10 day event in Lima. Hundreds of street food and restaurant stands were there, together with many farmers: a chocolate market, together with a special area dedicated to Pisco, the Peruvian national drink, a chef theatre and cultural stages. An explosion of colours, flavours and catchy rhythms.
The new location is Campo de Marte, one of the largest parks in Lima, famous for historical monuments that celebrate the peace between Peru and Ecuador after the 1942 war, and the bonding between Peru and Japan in the form of a bridge.
Much better organised than previous years, the event was a feast for the senses: “You will find at Mistura, the whole of Peru represented – folk dances, the best of street food, unique products from artisans, and an army of smiling farmers, proudly presenting the fruit of their labours. Even the toughest person will feel emotional at Mistura.” says the celebrity chef and organiser, Christian Bravo.
The gathering is a celebration of Peruvian pride, achieved through food. A country that used to have a fragmented identity, has found a way to negate their racial, social and cultural differences using The Power of Food, chosen as the title for a documentary about the festival.
Gastón Acurio, the father of the event, doesn’t like to be called a national hero, but there is no other title that can express what his people see in him: “If you’re fortunate enough to occupy a position where people listen to you, you need to use your voice wisely. One man can be strong, but if he uses his power to help his people, amazing things can happen. In Peru there is no ME. There is only WE.”
The Peruvian tourism board has been influential in the success of Mistura, and in encouraging the interest in all things Peruvian around the world. PromPeru has created ‘Marca Peru’, the most successful marketing campaign the country has ever had – a key initiative that could potentially be used as a model throughout the world. Patenting the name of the country as a trademark, PromPeru has taken over the idea of the three musketeers - “one for all, all for one”, to bring people, companies and events under a single name. According to Vanessa Peixoto, head of communication at PromPeru, when the country grows together, everyone benefits: “We see Peru as one country, one trademark. We are all individuals and different companies want to promote their own products. However, we have understood early enough that together we can achieve much more than we can individually.”
A group of international chefs have become “friends of Mistura” and return every year. This year, some of the international highlights on stage were Massimo Bottura, Quique Dacosta, Joan Roca, Roberta Sudbrack, Mauro Colagreco, Paco Torreblanca, Eneko Atxa, Daniel Ovadia, Nelson Mendez and Peter Gilmore. Chef Giancarlo Morelli has been Italy’s culinary ambassador to Peru for some years, and believes that the Peruvian model can inspire the world: “Mistura represents authenticity and love for food. Everyone should visit this incredible event at least once.”
Mistura in 7 impressions
• Street food is not simple food from the streets. It reflects the authentic culinary treasures of a country.
• To support and value the work of the farmers is to make them partners in the success of gastronomy – there is no successful restaurant without top produce behind it.
• Sharing information with humbleness and sincerity is the key to the future of gastronomic events. Not “showing off” how clever you are, or how much you know. The audience is looking for information and inspiration.
• The real luxury is simplicity, said master chocolatier, Frédéric Bau 10 years ago. At Mistura, top chefs from the best restaurants in the world have come to the same conclusion.
• In Peru, fusion cuisine is a natural and successful concept. Peru is a multicultural country, and so is the cuisine. Authentic fusion cannot be mistaken for ‘ConFusion.’
• The traditional and avant-garde both have a place in the gastro-world if they are truthful culinary expressions. People are looking for honest and clear approaches. The time for the ‘wannabes’ is over.
• South America is going to be the leader of the new global food revolution. Get ready – the Latinos are coming!