Mistura is, or unfortunately correctly until 2017, was the largest and most important food festival in Latin America. Held annually in Lima, it attracted hundreds of thousands of national and international visitors putting the Peruvian capital and Peru on the gastronomic world map.
Mistura history 2008 to 2016
Mistura started in 2008 as a small local food festival. The first edition was held at the Parque de la Exposicion in Lima’s city center and with around 30,000 visitors was considered successful. One year later Mistura returned larger, moved to the Costa Verde of Lima, which would become its traditional location, and nearly doubled its visitors. Thanks to many prominent Peruvian chefs and committed organizers, over the coming years the Mistura grew into the largest and most important yearly gastronomic event in Latin America with over 600,000 visitors at its peak time.
Mistura was organized by Apega, the Peruvian Society of Gastronomy, with the aim to bring together small farmers, producers of local produce and products, food and drinks sellers, chefs, bakers, confectioners, viticulturists, restaurants, baristas, food enthusiasts, Limeños and visitors from all over the world all celebrating Peru's rich biodiversity and amazing cuisine with the country's and continent’s largest gastronomic folk festival.
However, next to the 10 days full of Peruvian flavors and colors, Mistura visitors could also enjoy an extensive music and cultural program including typical Peruvian dance performances, live music events, exhibitions, workshops and much more.
The heart of Mistura was always El Gran Mercado, the Great Market. Here, around 300 farmers and producers from all over Peru offered a vast variety of typical and not as widely known Peruvian produce and products from the country's different regions.
Not only Peruvian fruits and veggies, juices, honey, oils, grains, cheeses, herbs, natural remedies and many other Peruvian products were offered on the Great Market, but as well lots of knowledge and recipes which use the diverse local ingredients and produce to prepare healthy, nutritious and delicious dishes.
The gastronomic fair was thematically divided into many culinary worlds such as “worlds” dedicated to the Peruvian highland cuisine, the delicious flavors from the Amazon region, the cuisine from southern and northern Peru, ceviche or the creole cuisine. Additionally, visitors could enjoy, for example, the world of cocoa, chocolate and coffee, the world of Peruvian Pisco, the world of bread, the world of soups, and many more.
As the Peruvian cuisine is an important part of the local culture and identity, Mistura not only was a must for food lovers and professionals in the hospitality sector, but for everyone interested in Peru and its people. It allowed visitors to get a glimpse of the impressive Peruvian biodiversity, discover the large variety and facets of the Peruvian cuisine and enjoy the culinary treasures of the different regions of Peru.
Mistura 2017 to 2019
Problems began in 2017 when some prominent supporters withdrew from the organization. First the Mistura was moved from its traditional location at the Costa Verde to a new venue, the Club Revolver in Lima's district Rimac. Then just weeks before its traditional and confirmed start in September Peru’s largest food fair was postponed due to organizational problems. Many Limeños, Peruvians and especially international guests, who had booked their flight tickets, hotels, etc. months in advance (which was necessary when Mistura was in town) and now had to cancel everything, weren’t amused. Two months late, the Mistura 2017 finally took place in November, however it seemed that Mistura’s spirit was gone.
Visitor numbers were down by 25%, many international guests (tourists and professionals in the hospitality sector) didn’t show any interest in coming after the debacle two months earlier and organizers were hit with justifiably harsh criticism. It’s fair to say that Mistura’s 10th edition was a disaster from start to end. For the 2018 Mistura the organizers promised improvement.
And the year started well on the Mistura front. In April 2018 Apega, the Peruvian Society of Gastronomy which organizes the food fair, announced that Mistura is back on track, will return to its traditional location on the Costa Verde and held as usual in September. So everything seemed fine even though people started to wonder why no further information was published as the date drew closer. And then, as already the year before, just a few weeks before the start the public was informed that the Mistura 2018 was once again postponed; this time because it would be reinvented.
Only months later at the beginning of 2019 - the Mistura 2018 was all water under the bridge by now - Apega reemerged with stunning news. The transformation and reorganizing process of the new Mistura concept would be finished and the Mistura 2019 would definitely take place; however, to the astonishment of all, not in Lima anymore, but most probably either in Trujillo or Arequipa. Detailed information would be published “in the next 10 days”. Additionally, the already shocked crowd was informed that plans to bring Mistura abroad seem to be a tangible reality. Talks with Chile and Colombia, but as well Bolivia would be underway and in the future, we could see a Mistura in Santiago de Chile, Bogota, La Paz or Sucre.
Since this announcement there is silence. The Mistura 2019 didn’t happen neither in Lima, nor Arequipa or Trujillo or elsewhere. Organizers seem to have disappeared, no news on the Mistura or Apega social media sites, nothing on their webpage, no answers to messages and e-mails and nothing in the local press.
Mistura 2020 and 2021
A Mistura 2020 of course didn’t take place as well - if it’s only because of Covid or other reasons, we don’t know - and with Covid still around a Mistura 2021 won’t happen as well. And having heard or seen nothing for now over two years we fear that a Mistura 2022 or even 2023 won’t take place either.
The Mistura at the Costa Verde in Lima was so much more than an ordinary food festival. It was a celebration of Peru, its huge biodiversity, its cuisine, its culture, its history, its traditions, its diversity, its zest of life; it offered the essence and soul of Peru and Peruvians to the world, at least until it fell victim to absolute commercialization and profiteering. And it makes me sad seeing that the good old Mistura times seem to be over and the largest gastronomic and cultural event Peru has ever seen gone forever.
If - against all odds - Mistura is revived, we of course inform you.