For two weeks every September the beach of La Molina in Lima is transformed into Mistura, the biggest food festival in Peru, and being me, this was not an occasion I was ever going to miss. It was rumoured that Sunday would be the busiest day and we would have to queue for hours and hours to buy just one meal that we would all have to share, but we were not put off. We pulled up to the extensive site which ran along the pacific coast and were welcomed by the entrance which consisted of a giant inflatable fork.
There was a great variety of stalls selling both fresh meals and goods to take home, a bread tent, and pisco and beer world. We ate and drank all day and the sun even decided to come out, giving me an idea of how great Peruvian summer is going to be.
All the local peruvians, both sellers from all over Peru, and punters from Lima, were so friendly and interested to know what we westerners thought of their food, which seems to be the pride of their nation. We chatted to bakers, pisco makers and the nine year old daughter Maria Julia, of the most fantastic barbecue maestro. The more I visited the beer tent the more I tended to chat in Spanish to the vendors, which was great fun, and my bartering skills are certainly improving.
I tried guinea pig, a staple food in the Andes, and I won’t lie, it wasn’t pleasant, quite tough for very little meat. Alpaca however was absolutely delicious, as were anticuchos (peruvian speciality of cow hearts), picarones (deep friend sweet potato rings), and slow cooked pork roasted over open fires. We shared about eight meals throughout the day between the six of us and it opened my eyes to the world of Peruvian food beyond fried chicken, potatoes and rice.
The vendors were selling buckets of quinoa (my favourite), avocados the size of my head and some of the hundreds of varieties of purple speckled potatoes found in Peru. The amount of free samples was ideal and we all got a big Pilsen pint tankard for 6 soles (ridiculously cheap for everyone here’s beer of choice), we moved on to pisco and the day ended in endless hilarity and making friends with Jorge the taxi driver who wants to take us to his favourite hip hop club.