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Peru: ‘Mistura 2011′ Ends Amid Praise and Criticism

Mistura, the already famous Peruvian festival of Gastronomy, has come to a close after ten days of its fourth edition with impressive figures: more than 400,000 visitors [es] (more than the year before) among which were 18,000 children and some 4,500 tourists who arrived in Lima to attend the event. Moreover, the organisers noted that a total of 233 journalists came from 19 countries [es] to report the development of the festival, besides 300 students of gastronomy from the region, and there are hopes that the 2012 Mistura festival will attract one million visitors [es]. It is important to note that Lima has 8 million inhabitants.

Outside the Mistura festival, Lima. Photo: Go!PymesFotos/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The local food blog Cucharas Bravas [es] details some of the numbers of total sales:

  • Más de medio millón de panes vendidos. (El 2010 se vendieron 250 mil panes)
  • El área de dulces y carretillas vendió más de 230 mil porciones.
  • Más de 40 mil porciones vendidas en la zona de cocinas regionales.
  • Más de 20 mil pociones vendidas en la zona de cocinas clásicas.
  • Al cilindro de Javi , Makatong y La cilindrada de Pedrito vendieron más de 4,000 porciones diarias.
  • La sección de cocinas rústicas vendió más de 95 mil porciones.
  • Más de 8 toneladas de frutas vendidas. Las más pedidas: Naranja, Chirimoya, Palta, Pitajaya y Poro Poro.
  • Los productores del Gran Mercado tuvieron ventas por más de 400 mil soles (US$ 142,857 aprox.).
  • More than half a million loaves of bread sold. (In 2010 250 thousand were sold)
  • The area of sweets and dessert carts sold more than 230 thousand portions.
  • More than 40 thousand portions sold in the area of regional  cuisine.
  • More than 20 thousand portions sold in the classic cuisine section.
  • In the booths of Javi , Makatong and La cilindada Pedrito more than 4,000 portions were sold daily.
  • The rustic kitchen section sold more than 95 thousand portions.
  • More than 8 tons of fruit sold. Most requested: Orange, Chirimoya, Avocados, Pitajaya and Poro Poro.
  • Producers in the Gran Mercado earned more than 400,000 soles (US$ 142,857 aprox.).
  • Apart form food, one of the most anticipated events of this edition of Mistura was the signing of the declaration of Lima, done by nine world renowned cooks. The blog Perú, Pasión por la Comida (Peru, Passion for Food) [es] reported:

    …si algo hemos aprendido los peruanos en los últimos años gracias al boom de la gastronomía nacional, es que la cocina puede convertirse en una auténtica herramienta de transformación social y de cohesión para la comunidad. Así lo han entendido también el brasileño Alex Atala, el italiano Massino Bottura, el estadounidense Dan Barber, el Japonés Yukio Hattori, el danés Rene Redzepi, el español Ferrán Adrià, el francés Michael Bras y nuestro reconocido Gastón Acurio.

    …if we've learned anything from the Peruvians in these last years of the gastronomic boom nationwide, it is that cooking can be converted into an authentic instrument of social transformation and social cohesion for the community. This was also said by Brazilian Alex Atala, Italian Massino Bottura, Dan Barber from the US, Japanese Yukio Hattori, Rene Redzepi from Denmark, Ferrán Adrià from Spain, French Michael Bras and our very own famous Gastón Acurio.

    The Declaration of Lima, or the ‘G-9′ (for the 9 chefs who signed it) as it is called, was recognised on an international scale, but not everyone celebrated it. There were critical commentaries by Jay Rayner, of the blog Word of Mouth from The Guardian newspaper:

    Let's be clear. There is nothing wrong with a bunch of very talented, very serious cooks having these thoughts. […] Yes, of course good chefs ought to be serious about their ingredients. Yes they have a responsibility to source stuff ethically. But they also need to remember that they aren't secular saints. They are chefs cooking dinner for very, very rich people.

    Ferrán Adriá, the famous chef from Catalonia and owner of El Bulli, walked through the festival, summarising his visible enthusiasm in one phrase: “The best recipe you have is passion” [es].

    President of Congress, accompanied by three MPs, at the inauguration of "Mistura". Photo: Congress of the Republic of Perú/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) .

    Despite the great opening and the massive attendance, not everyone was happy with the event: some criticised the disorganisation [es] as well as discrimination against the elderly. Some think that Misura is an elitist event that disguises itself as something average, as Johan Espinal posted on the blog Muladar News [es]:

    … Mis­tura es un ejem­plo de lo que la demo­cra­cia sig­ni­fica para los Gas­to­nes Acu­rios de nues­tros tiem­pos: Si quie­res comer tie­nes que pagar, si quie­res pagar tie­nes que hacer cola, si quie­res hacer cola pri­mero tie­nes que entrar, si quie­res entrar tie­nes que pagar y así se cie­rra ese círculo empa­la­goso del nego­cio redondo en clave gastronómica… Mis­tura tam­bién podría ser el Perú que algu­nos  desea­mos desterrar.

    … Mis­tura is an example of what democracy means to the Gas­to­n Acu­rios of our time: If you want to eat something, you have to pay for it, if you want to pay for it, you have to wait in line, if you want to form a line, you have to get in first, if you want to enter, you have to pay, and the circle of business surrounding the gastronomic closes… Mis­tura could also be that part of Peru that some of us want to eradicate.

    Along these same lines, there has been a Facebook page in existence since 2010 called “Misiura” [es] (in Peruvian slang “misio” means “broke”), that says:

    Misiura es la feria gastronómica del pueblo, aquí degustarás de los mas ricos y exquisitos platillos, comida tradicional, etc; sin necesidad de pagar 20 soles por persona en la entrada… Esta FERIA se hará realidad no precisamente para hacer RICO o llenar de DINERO a un grupo de COCINEROS que se hacen “AMIGOS” del gobierno de turno, es para promover la justicia alimentaria…

    Misiura is the gastronomy festival of the people, where you can taste the most delicious and exquisite dishes, traditional food, etc; without paying 20 soles to enter… This FESTIVAL wasn't realised for people to get RICH or fill the pockets of a bunch of CHEFS who make “FRIENDS” with the government of the time, it's to promote culinary justice…

    However, this “Misiura” page is small: it hardly surpassed 2000 followers, compared to the 319,000 followers of the Facebook page “Mistura”.

    Meanwhile, chef Gastón Acurio, creator of this festival, has been responding to criticism since 2009 about the price of tickets (which don't include what you consume inside), arguing that even with the price fixed at 20 soles (US $7.50) the festival managed to bring in multitudes, so that cheaper tickets [es] would have brought in a huge flood of people, meaning that it would have exceeded the safe number of attendees as authorised by the Civil Force for the Gran Parque de Lima (the chosen venue for the event).

    On social networks the development of this Festival was attentively monitored, with comments ranging from reactions to the food to details of organisation. María Mickle [es] commented on Facebook on the festive side of the event and the integral role of food in Peruvian society:

    MISTURA………..LA MEJOR FERIA GASTRONOMICA DEL MUNDO, ORGULLO NACIONAL EL UNICO LUGAR EN PERU DONDE NO SE DISCRIMINA A NADIE, MISTURA, DONDE SE JUNTAN LAS MANOS SACADAS DEL ULTIMO RINCON DEL PERU, PARA DEMOSTRAR EL ARTE DE LA COCINA AL MUNDO, ALLI NO HAY BLANCOS, NI CHOLOS, NI INDIOS, NI NEGROS, NI ZAMBITOS……..ALLI TODOS SON IGUALES, TODOS SON HERMANOS UNIDOS POR UNA SOLA VOZ………EL ARTE DE LA COCINA………..VIVA MISTURA………….VIVA EL PERU!!!!!!

    MISTURA………..THE BEST FESTIVAL OF GASTRONOMY IN THE WORLD, NATIONAL PRIDE AND THE ONLY PLACE IN PERU WHERE NO ONE IS DISCRIMINATED AGAINST, MISTURA, WHERE HANDS FROM ALL OVER PERU JOIN TOGETHER TO DEMONSTRATE THE CULINARY ARTS TO THE WORLD, WHERE THERE ARE NO WHITES OR CHOLOS, OR INDIGENOUS PEOPLE, OR BLACKS OR ZAMBITOS….HERE WE ARE ALL EQUAL…WE ARE ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS UNITED BY ONE VOICE ….. TO THE ART OF COOKING……..LONG LIVE MISTURA…..LONG LIVE  PERU!!!!!!

    Popular Peruvian singer song writer Gianmarco (@gianmarcomusica) notes on Twitter:

    Mistura, la feria gastronomica mas importante de latinoamerica! Orgullosamente Peruano! http://yfrog.com/nw46dtj

    Mistura, the most important gastronomy festival in Latin America! Proud to be Peruvian! http://yfrog.com/nw46dtj

    Víctor Henry Guerrero celebrates the food festival but complains about the crowds:

    Mistura …… que delicia, sabor y mas de 1000 platos peruanos…. pero… para conseguir una entrada mas de dos dias… y para comer lo bueno de lo bueno mas de 3 horas haciendo cola.. no pues !!!!!!

    Mistura …… how delightful, flavour and more than 1000 Peruvian dishes…but… getting a ticket took more than 2 days…to eat the best of the best, you have to stay in line for 3 hours… gosh no !!!!!!

    Jesús Verde (@Jeve30) comments on the necessity to get more space:

    ahora mistura es una feria interesante, pero necesita un recinto mas grande…

    now that Mistura is an interesting festival, it needs a bigger venue…

    Twitter user JuandDz (@juandedz) talks about the prices at Mistura and “Misiura”:

    como dijo el amigo , para los que no pueden entrar a “Mistura” afuera también pueden comer en “Misiura”

    as our friend says, for those who couldn't get into “Mistura” outside you can also eat “Misiura”

    Others lament not being able to attend [es], so much so that there were expressions of hope that the 2012 version come soon [es].

    Mistura, the festival organised by the Asociación Peruana de Gastronomía (Apega for its initials in Spanish, the Peruvian Gastronomy Association) has a good official website [es], and an active group on Facebook. The Mayor of Lima admonished that the festival couldn't continue in the same place [es], and the organisers are already looking for a new and more spacious venue [es] to be able to receive more people (and lower the ticket fee) in the 2012 edition.

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