Today’s adventure is my family’s recent visit to Mistura. This is not a beach resort, nor a mystical location in the Amazon Jungle. Mistura is Lima’s annual festival of food.
Most towns have a festival for something – my own home town celebrates the black walnut, which honestly isn’t all the interesting. But EVERYONE loves food.
The event takes place in a huge park in the middle of Villa Maria district, about 40 acres of booths, where over a hundred restaurants each serve two examples of their most prized dishes for a nominal price.
We arrived at the gates, and I had flashbacks of Disneyworld. The crowd moved fast, however, and within minutes our tickets were punched and we were handed little ad flyers that said (in Español, of course) “Welcome to Mistura.”
We opened the flyers, and attached inside were little packets of antacid. I did not let this deter me.
We didn’t get far and I was distracted. “Hey, look, they’ve got rat-on-a-stick!”
“Dad, there’s no way I am eating rat,” youngest told me firmly. There’s nothing like having credibility with your kids.
“It’s not rat, it’s beef.” This was true, technically, and of course the child agreed. The dish in question was anticucho, a small shish-kabob of barbecued beef heart. And no, I didn’t mention that part until the child had polished hers off. She still owes me for a number of dirty diapers.
Over the next four hours, we wandered about the park, sampling sushi, chocolate, breads, and other ethnic food. A television-studio had been set up in one tent, presumably there would be a few live shows coming up. Another tent was filled entirely with chocolate products, everything from ice-cream to liqueur.
I then saw the coolest thing I have ever seen – I understand they have these at ball games in the U.S., but I’ve been out of the states for four of the last seven years, so cut me some slack.
A minion of the beer gods wore a keg on his back like a backpack, a six foot bicycle flag a beacon to followers. He had a cup-dispenser on the side, and the nozzle was on one of the straps. I paid the equivalent of a U.S. dollar in tribute, and received a 12-ounce ice-cold blessing.
My thirst quenched, we continued for another hour just as we had all afternoon: A few minutes in line, a small, seemingly harmless transaction, and yet another entree. Suddenly I was stricken with a moment of clarity regarding the aforementioned antacid.
My estimate of the crowd was 15K, which was close, as the newspapers later said the day’s attendance was 30,000. Over the ten-day Mistura festival, over half a million people gained a new understanding of one particular quote in the Bible:
The serpent tempted me, and I ate.