Food Festival of Mistura Peru: One of the Best in the World

Vendors at Mistura Food Festival in 2012.

If you pay attention to food trends, you’ll know that in recent years, Peruvian food has been exploding in popularity throughout Latin America and the rest of the world. Peru itself has also become a favorite travel destination for food lovers and for three years’ running has been named the World’s Leading Culinary Destination by the World Travel Awards.

Whether you are already a fan or are intrigued by the popularity of this unique South American cuisine, your best opportunity to try it is this September at the food festival Mistura of Peru in Lima.

History of Mistura Peru

Mistura, or mixture in Portuguese, is the largest food festival in South America and one of the largest in the world.

In 2014, over 400,000 people attended during the ten-day run. Some 30,000 of those were foreign tourists.

With over 200 food and drink stands and a market with some 1,300 people selling fruits, vegetables, and other raw ingredients, this food festival is a feast for the eyes, the nose, and the palate.

The APEGA (Sociedad Peruana de Gastronomía – Peruvian Gastronomy Society) organizes the event.

The festival started in 2008 as Perú Mucho Gusto, and in its first year it was able to attract some 23,000 visitors. Since then, each year the festival has grown both in scope and in number of attendees.

In recent years, Mistura has incorporated themes such as sustainability, nutrition, and biodiversity, with the intent of showing the many facets of Peruvian food and agriculture.

Tips for Attending Mistura Peru

Vendors at Mistura Food Festival in 2012.

Vendors at Mistura Food Festival in 2012.

Mistura Perú is held each September, with the date announced in the spring. Since it’s in Lima, travel to and from is as simple as an international flight. But it definitely takes planning.

In order to see everything – as well as to have room to try a number of dishes – you may want to visit the festival more than once.

Try going during the week, as weekends tend to be very crowded. For most food purchases, you have to buy “Mistura money,” so be sure to leave time for the lines – they can get heavy around lunchtime when locals visit the festival.

If you are headed all the way to Peru, don’t just make time for Machu Picchu.  You’ll also want to take the time to check out the fair’s schedule, as well as details of the Mundos (worlds), which are the different sections of the fair.

Past examples included Carretillas (pushcarts that sell street food), regional sections such as Del Sur (From the South), Andino (Andean) and Amazónico (Amazonian), and Dulces (Sweets).

What to Try at Mistura Peru

Food on offer runs the gamut: drinks like pisco, chilcano, and uvuchado; desserts including suspiro a la limeña, queso helado, and rafañote; and more exotic fare, such as cuy (guinea pig), anticuchos (beef heart), and frog milkshakes.

Beyond the opportunities to try Peruvian dishes, there are also activities at the festival like master classes, talks, cooking competitions, and even dance performances and concerts. So you will have lots to fill your time while you rest your stomach.

With some planning, a plane ticket, and an appetite, you’ll be on your way to one of the most unique culinary experiences on the planet.

Are you planning to go to Mistura or have you been? Tell us about it in the comments!

El Cadejo Legend – Central America

In some versions, there are two dogs: one white and one black.

Have you ever gotten home late at night, perhaps after a few drinks, and felt that maybe you weren’t alone? In Central America, some might say that you were followed by El Cadejo. This mythical creature is present throughout Mesoamerica.

Although each country has its own version, all agree that El Cadejo is a huge, black dog with bright red eyes, often with goat hooves and dragging chains. From afar, it follows those who go out at night, drinking and partying, until they get home safely.

Versions of El Cadejo Legend

In some versions, there are two dogs: one white and one black.

In some versions, there are two dogs: one white and one black.

What makes the El Cadejo legend unique among Latin American myths and legends is that each country of Central America has a slightly different version.

In several countries, for example, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador folklore, there are actually two Cadejos: one white, representing good, and one black, representing evil.

In these countries, the black Cadejo is the dog that follows night dwellers and drinkers, while the white one serves to protect against the other. If they meet, they fight, but don’t kill each other – just as in the struggle between good and evil, neither wins.

In Guatemala folklore, there are even regions with three Cadejos: black, white, and grey, with the white protecting women and the grey protecting lost and sick children.

In Costa Rica, the creature is called El Cadejos, and in addition to searching out partiers, it also appears at the window of children that won’t go to sleep.

Origin of El Cadejo Legend

It is not surprising that the El Cadejo legend is present in many parts of Mesoamerica. Dogs have been an important aspect of the region’s folklore and mythology since the golden age of the Mayan civilization.

One common theme was the dog as a companion or guide to the underworld; for example, dogs were painted on burial-themed pottery and were even buried with the dead in some of the region’s cultures.

It’s also possible that the legend comes from Mayan traditions which held that human beings had companion or spirit animals, called nahuales, which protected them from evil. The name itself is likely to come from the chains that the dogs drag – chains being cadenas in Spanish.

Given the Cadejo’s choice of “victim,” one of the most common explanations is that the legend serves a morality tale, discouraging heavy drinking and staying out late.

A Real-Life Cadejo?

Another origin of the El Cadejo legend is the weasel-like animal the tayra (Eira barbara), which is called a cadejo is some parts of the Central America. Most are dark brown or black, and they do have one unusual feature: the fur on their heads, which gets lighter as they get older.

This has led to some of its other names: viejo de monte (old man of the mountain) and cabeza de viejo (old man’s head). Still, it’s unlikely that this is the actual source of El Cadejo, as tayras are only about two feet long, not the huge, terrifying dog that inspired this legend. They do have long claws, though.

Still, the next time you have a long night, be on the watch for a big dog – and those bright red eyes…

Do you know a legend like El Cadejo? Tell us in the comments!

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