Mistura 2014

Two weeks ago, my husband and I spent the day wandering around the huge Peruvian gastronomical festival that is Mistura. It’s kind like a State Fair (for those familiar with them in the States) with lots of foods and exhibits about foods, except there are no terrifying beat-up rides, no yucky greasy food that will have you running for the porta-potties, and no motorcycle events or pig races. Ok, so I guess that’s my stereotyped version of a North Carolina State Fair, but Mistura is totally different.

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Mistura covers a giant area of land along Magdelena del Mar AKA beachfront in Lima. It features all sorts of foods and cuisines (divided into Worlds) and natural resources from Peru, including food from the North, South, Amazon, Creole, Chinese food, sandwiches, sweets, and ceviche. The range of comida is astounding, and if I had the time and money (and stomach) I would try one of everything!

Mistura is tricky because there are parts of the fair that accept money (Peruvian soles), but most parts only accept meal tickets, which can be purchased in S./20, S./50, or S./100  amounts. Most foods will cost you S./13, leaving S./7 which can get you a drink (juice, smoothie), or a dessert. For the two of us, I exchanged S./50 for the meal tickets, and we were able to eat a lot between the two of us (plus samples!), and ended up with S./2 tickets left over… oops.

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Once we were inside, we knew we wanted to start with food! One of the most famous foods at the fair is Chancho al Palo, and it’s one of the first things you smell upon entering the gates! There were lots of stands selling Chancho al Palo, and the most famous one had the longest line. We were so hungry we chose the shortest line, and devoured the food in minutes after taking pictures of it. :) Chancho and Anticuchos cost S./16.

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The pigs cooking away!

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Beer World is new this year, and while husband and I aren’t beer drinkers, he was obligated to take pictures since he had a press pass. The World is a big area, with vendors on the outside of the circle, and a taste-testing section in the middle. We stopped there to talk and ask a beer “specialist” about Beer World, and it’s popularity, and then moved on to take more pictures. It was interesting walking around and seeing the main beer producers in Peru… of which there were only a few represented. Each place was decorated differently, depending on where they were located…. Cusco, the jungle, the mountains, etc.

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From there, we walked all the way to be front of the place, to start with Kid’s World. There are all sorts of different Worlds, and this year Kid’s World is new! We were there with one agenda (besides eating yummy foods)- taking pictures and getting info about Kid’s World for an online magazine. My husband had a press pass, making it easy for him to slide in and take photos, but I had to wait outside until they gave me the thumbs up to enter. I was introduced as “editor” of the magazine, which was a little stretch ;) but got me in, nonetheless. We walked around, learned about everything, and were out to explore more Worlds! The article I wrote up can be found here.

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Foods you should eat, according to Kid’s World!

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Sweets World was the main place I wanted to explore, and thankfully, some of the chocolatiers were very nice and talkative with us (thank you, press pass), and we spent a lot of time talking to them about cacao and how their company works. I got so much information from them, that I wrote another article, found here! And of course we couldn’t leave without buying a few chocolates… I got a coffee chocolate bar, and some chocolate covered peanuts. YUM.

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The Gran Mercado, or Grand Market, was another favorite place of mine at Mistura this year. It features all sorts of products, produces, and promotions for Peruvian foods, crafts, and coffees. We spent at least an hour walking down each aisle, getting samples, taking pictures, and talking to the vendors from all over Peru. We sampled coffee, a green minty drink that helps with digestion, fruits, hot sauces, quinoa manjar (kind of like caramel), more coffee, fruit juice, honey, and probably other things I can’t remember! I bought the quinoa manjar  because it’s from Huaraz, and aguaymanto (tangy jungle fruit) because it was a great price! To buy things in the Gran Mercado you have to pay in Soles, not the meal tickets.

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Famous Peruvian produce

We breezed through other worlds, before deciding where we wanted to eat lunch… a tough choice, but we decided on Amazonian food: ribs with a chocolate-y glaze sauce and plantains from La Patarashca. It was amazing and finger-licking delicious! Then, we booked it to find some dessert, and settled with Picarones from Larita for S./6.

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empty tables on a Saturday!

At this point it was around 4:00pm and we were tired, full, and happy, but not finished yet! Mistura has a Gran Auditorio (Grand Auditorium) where there are presentations, talks from famous chefs, and other culinary events. My husband wanted to go in and snap some photos, so I waited outside awkwardly, until he came and said I was able to go in too! We left our ID’s at the front, were given Qaray press passes, notebooks, schedules, and walked right in to the auditorium where we sat at the back. We walked in during the middle of a presentation from Ben Reade of Nordic Food Lab. It was in English (!) and very interesting to hear about his life, travels, and research. After him, we saw Gastón Acurio, only the most famous Peruvian chef. Then we saw a presentation by Diego Muñoz and some culinary students. It was so cool being able to sit in on these sessions and hear from esteemed people in the food world!

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Ben Reade

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Gastón Acurio

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Diego Muñoz

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Eat well, eat healthy, eat Peruvian

As we were walking out of the auditorium & turning in our passes, we were told to head to the International Press building for cocktail hour. We thought, “what the heck?” and walked to there just to check it out. We were greeted with drinks upon walking in (Pisco, maracuya juice, Inca Kola, Chicha Morada…well-known Peruvian drinks) and told to take a seat. We sat down at a table with a Chilean chef who owns Restaurante Piura- so cool! As we sat there taking it all in, waiters came around with trays of amazing Peruvian foods, featuring lots of quinoa, seafood, and meats. Everything I tried was so delicious, but especially the quino-covered shrimp with sweet, tangy passionfruit sauce! Moments later, three famous foodies came and greeted the international press… I don’t know their names, but it’s still cool!

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We took advantage of the free stuff with the press pass, and got fresh, cold, passionfruit (maracuya) juices! It was quite cold outside, so we sucked them down quickly after taking pictures at this cool chalk wall at Mistura! I wanted to sign it, but there was no chalk :)

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After stuffing ourselves with appetizers, we were tired and ready to start the long trip back home. However, as we got closer to the exits near Beer World, the sound of music magically drew us into the line outside to enter the concert. The headliner show (starting at 8:30pm) was 1980’s Peruvian rock band, Rio. It was fun to hear some of their songs, even though I had never heard them before and couldn’t understand half the lyrics!

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By 9:00 we were exhausted, so out the Mistura gates we went, and up the hill we walked to the bus stop. It was a long day, but a really awesome one in my book. I went to Mistura last year with a friend, but this year was so much better. I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Mistura with my husband, and had a great time taking advantage of his press pass. And being there as a journalist was super fun because I really felt I learned more from talking to the vendors and workers, instead of just doing my own thing and not gaining any cultural experience or knowledge.

I was very impressed with the organization of Mistura, and the cleanliness of everything from tables to the porta-potties. Although Mistura isn’t extremely popular with everyone, I had a good time, and would recommend it to other expats or tourists in Peru. It’s a great way to learn about Peruvian cuisine and culture, and practice your Spanish with the vendors! :)

Here are three interesting Mistura recaps I’ve found:

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Eater

Peru This Week

On Cooking

Cooking and eating at home in Peru has been quite different than back home in the States.

For starters, we cook for just the two of us, instead of a family of 4+. We have to watch how much we make, because my husband is a firm believer in eating everything instead of just throwing it away. If we make it, we eat it. And of course on the rare occasion when we put leftovers in the fridge, we always forget to check there before deciding what to eat the next day, so sometimes those get thrown out.

Secondly, we try to make a mix of Peruvian staples + American staples. This includes fried plantains, rice, anything with potatoes, spaghetti, chili, chicken noodle soup, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Those might not sound like “staples” in either country, but they are what we consider staples. We don’t really experiment outside of these cuisines, because he doesn’t like spicy foods, and I don’t like it when dinner takes 3+ hours to make (unless I turn on the crockpot in the mornings!) Although, I am itching to learn some traditional Peruvian dishes!

It’s not as easy to cook here. Ok, so it’s not that it isn’t easy, per se, it just isn’t as convenient as back home. We have a sauce pan, a small pot, and a medium pot, and we’re constantly washing them because we re-use them sometimes twice to make one meal. The oven is reallllly slow at baking, and we don’t have a broiler. The one time I tried baking chicken breasts, they were still pink after 30 minutes. Sometimes our gas stovetop gets too hot from overuse, and it cooks our food too fast. (think: burnt sautéed onions) If I want to prep ingredients for a crockpot meal, I have to do it right before cooking, because there isn’t room in our tiny fridge to store a crockpot overnight. Lots of the recipes I like from back home use ingredients that can’t be found here (soups, seasonings, beans w/ peppers, etc.) We don’t have a blender, hand mixer, or big cutting board, which are readily available at home and I used to use frequently. Even my cookie recipes always turn out crappy, whether from the ingredients or the oven, I’m not sure! :)

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Cooking baking fail

We like keeping things simple. Some of our favorite meals involve rice, avocado, fried eggs, sliced tomato, fried plantains, salad, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes. The ingredients are super simple, but we jazz things up with garlic, Italian seasoning, lemon pepper, lime, and other seasonings I brought from the States.

The grocery stores here are not like the ones at home. Usually back home, already-cooked beans are $1-2. Here they’re the equivalent of $4-5. Cream cheese is nearly $5…and carrot cake doesn’t taste the same without it. Bacon is never on sale, and 6 slices cost us $3.50.  Tortillas are about $3 and it’s a random brand I’ve never tried. I realize the prices shouldn’t deter me from using the ingredients I know (and love) to make dishes, and that’s where my next point comes in…

We’re on a budget and try not to go overboard on price of ingredients. Because we only cook for 2 and we don’t get too complicated in the kitchen, it’s somewhat easy to stick to a grocery budget. Noodles are on sale every other week, so we buy them then. Rice is affordable, and it goes with every meal. We found the perfect little veggie/fruit market, and the prices there are insane. What we usually spend the most on is meat- ground beef or chicken breasts, oil (olive or vegetable), Hunt’s BBQ sauce, and bottled water. And then there are the times I want to get creative and buy lots of things to try, but then realize we’re on a budget and I need to stick with the basics!

Although things are a little different here in Peru, I still love being in the (tiny) kitchen and helping make yummy food with my husband. I’m still adjusting to cooking and baking and food shopping on a tight budget here, and although I might complain a bit, I’m enjoying the learning curve! :)

Here are just a few of the many delicious things we’ve cooked up the past few months!

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Asking for Help

Today I had to do something that I’m generally not very comfortable doing… I had to ask for help.

Since moving to Peru, I’ve been somewhat independent. But when I need help with anything, my husband is always there to help me. Except for today.

Getting my paperwork done to have my visa changed to “Resident” has been such a hassle. Of course I shouldn’t have expected anything less from the Peruvian government (or any other government for that matter), but I’m an optimist. I expected things to be easily explained and there to be a step-by-step detailed list. False.

After figuring out where to start a few months ago, we got the ball rolling with my papers at Migraciones (Immigrations), paid some money, then waited a month out for an appointment. After the appointment, they directed me to Interpol to get my international record checked out. (Not gonna lie, it’s pretty cool saying, “I’ve been to Interpol.”) From there, Interpol told me I needed to return in a week to get my papers.

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Yes that is an odontogram- tooth record!

So today was the day I needed to go to Interpol and pick up my papers, and take them back to Migraciones. And today, my dear husband whom I rely on so much, is out of town and could not help me get from one place to the next, safely and wisely.

I got off my bus on the PanAm this morning, walked a few big blocks, and was at Interpol by 8:40. I waited in line for maybe 5 minutes, then went in to get my papers. Super quick & easy… the easiest part of the process so far! From there, I knew I needed to get the papers to Migraciones today, before my week got to busy and I forgot.

Here’s where the something uncomfortable comes into play… I had to ask for help… from someone I had never met before!

Now I realize that asking for help is a part of life, and people do it all the time. But not me. I don’t know if it means I’m too prideful or arrogant, or maybe just flat out stubborn, but I don’t like to ask for help. Whether it’s a situation that involves emotions, information, money, a simple act of kindness… I’m not good at asking for help.

And today I had to overcome that. I had to admit to someone that I don’t feel comfortable traveling alone downtown, and that I wasn’t 100% sure how to get to where I needed to go, despite having been there four times already! I had to ask someone to take time out of their day to help me. And thank the Lord she did, because had she not, I would have been lost… physically and emotionally.

My new friend (who has known my husband for years) stepped up when I needed someone’s help, and I will be forever grateful! She taught me a new route to take on the buses to get downtown faster (my husband and I always walk, and taking a bus seriously saved us 40 minutes of walking!) and helped me translate when I couldn’t think quickly enough. She waited in line with me, and was really nice and patient about everything. And we were there and back before lunchtime, which is a huge success in downtown Lima! ;)

So I guess even though asking for help isn’t always the most fun, sometimes getting the help is the fun part. I made a new friend, learned a new route, and got my papers turned in all because I asked for her help. In the future I’m going to try not to be too shy to ask for help.

I sure am learning a lot from living here in Lima.

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Summer

Ahh, just the word summer conjures up senses filled with pure joy…

…hot rays of the sun dancing on my skin

…smelling that fresh, wet smell after summer thunderstorms

…slurping down $1.50 snocones from Pelican’s in every flavor

…feeling sweat trickling down my back as I walk to the mailbox, my car, or anywhere more than a 20-foot distance

…wearing shorts and tanktops and flip flops and pretty sundresses

…watching Durham Bulls baseball games with my best friends

…making salads, fruit cobblers, ice cold sweet tea

…sleeping with my window open at night and hearing the crickets and frogs and outdoorsy noises that I love

…resisting the urge to look cute, and putting my hair up in ponytails every day

…cooking on the grill with my dad

…going to the Farmer’s Market and buying farm fresh tomatoes, blackberries, basil, and wildflowers

…laying out in the sun, then jumping in the nearest body of water for a swim

…relaxing in my hammock reading a book, as I furiously swat away mosquitoes

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do any of those lovely summery things.

It’s currently the dead of winter here in Lima, and I’m missing summer like none other. Seeing pictures of my friends enjoying a summer down south or out west is killing me. At first, I didn’t mind so much… but then I saw even more pictures of friends kayaking and paddle boarding and riding bikes and hiking and surfing and reading books on the beach and having backyard barbecues and making homemade ice cream… and all that really got to me. Oh, and hearing people complain, “I can’t believe July is almost over- where is summer going?!” makes me roll my eyes because I’m all, “thank goodness July is almost over- I’m ready for spring and summer in Lima!”

I hate to admit it, but I’m jealous. I’m jealous of people getting to enjoy my all-time favorite season while I’m trying to survive winter in a foreign country.

It’s cold and damp with 88% humidity, and it makes me feel miserable. I keep hoping to see the sun, or to not shiver when I first step outside, but folks say that won’t come for a few more months. The only things keeping me optimistic are memories of summers past, and the exciting future of spending the summer in Peru with my husband! :) See, I am optimistic and happy and not entirely grumpy!

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What are your favorite things about summer?

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One Month

It’s hard to believe it’s been one month since my husband and I said our vows in the Andes, and made a covenant to stick together through whatever God brings us in this life. Our day was amazingly perfect (don’t worry, I’ll share more! ;) ) and it really is mind-boggling that it’s already been a month. IMG_5443 Instead of doing a “what I’ve learned in 1 month of marriage” post like I’ve seen around on other blogs, I’m going to do more of a “what we’ve done/accomplished in 1 month of marriage” post. I realize they’re kinda the same, but just go with the flow! :)

- learned to live together :: we haven’t mastered this, per se, but it’s getting easier to constantly bump into each other in our small one-room studio-esque apartment. We each have places our stuff belongs, and we like for it to stay there. He doesn’t complain when I make the bed first thing in the morning, and I don’t complain when he leaves food or spices out. We don’t argue over who is washing the dishes, making dinner, or taking the trash out… we split jobs evenly, and it’s working out well so far!

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a delicious soup we made!

- shared a bed :: although he says I still kick him during the night, I think it’s safe to say we both enjoy having another warm body to curl up to in our little full-sized bed. I don’t think I’m going to ever want to sleep along again!

- getting government paper worked on :: we spent an entire day trying to find the correct office to get our paperwork started at (him to let the government know he’s married, and me to get a resident visa, among other things!)… each office sent us to another one, and it took 4 tries before we finally found the place to start- the Immigration Office! Paperwork is always a stressful process in Peru, so we are both glad we were able to get the process started within our first month of marriage.

- welcomed two baby nephews into the family! :: our beautiful sister-in-law gave birth to twin boys a week after our wedding, and we couldn’t be more excited! Of course, I’m probably more excited than he is, but come on… babies are always exciting!

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- worked and made schedules :: for two weeks out of the past month, I was a substitute teacher. I left home at 7:10am, and was back home around 4:00pm each day. JB was wonderful and woke up with me each morning, made me breakfast and helped with lunch, and even walked with me to school! Just having him there was a great support, and it helped us to get on a schedule… up early, work, working out, early bedtime! I know I was exhausted those weeks, and my husband was so supportive.

- celebrated my birthday! :: my birthday was July 8th, and my husband was so sweet to me on my day. Despite the fact that our afternoon didn’t go as planned, the evening was perfect and I was/am so thankful. Once we were rid of the family, we went out for Chinese at the place we went for his birthday, then grabbed a delicious chocolatey-peanut-buttery dessert at Tanta. And he even surprised me with flowers and chocolates!!! Yep, he’s a winner.

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- fought :: unfortunately, we had a little (dumb) spat during our first month. We never really fought before, so this was new to us, and we had to learn how we both cope when we are angry/upset.

- haggled prices with taxi drivers  :: self-explanatory. And I guess it’s only going to get worse for JB since he’s married to a gringa!

- gotten sick together :: ok, so this one is random I know, but neither of us had really been sick since I’ve moved to Lima, until last weekend… JB woke up with a sore throat and stuffy nose, and two days later I had the same symptoms. Nothing like a good old fashioned cold to help you bond with your spouse! Oh, and we went through lots of tea bags and honey!

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- been to a parade :: I legitimately think the Wong Parade was my first ever parade, and I’m glad my husband wanted to go and be tourists and take pictures.  Yay for Peru’s Independence Day!

- walked a lot :: there’s no telling how many miles we covered this past month walking around Lima! Every day we walk somewhere… a park, grocery store, bus stop, school… and it feels so good to walk around and talk and learn new backroads in our neighborhoods. Also, we want to be a healthier couple in general, and walking helps us to get exercise daily, even if we’re too tired to run!

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talked :: we’ve talked lots about our pasts, present, and future, and prayed about where God wants us. We’re always learning something new about each other… or at least I’m always learning!

splurged on ice cream :: there’s nothing better than a soft serve ice cream cone! It’s a little treat for us that we like to splurge on every once in a while :)

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  It might not sound like a lot when it’s written down, but the past month of marriage has helped us to accomplish lots of little things that are only the start to the rest of our lives together. I’m so thankful for my husband and our one month of marriage! IMG_5893 blog signature

Our Civil Ceremony

After sharing how to get married in Peru (the civil ceremony), I only thought it fitting that I share some pictures from our civil ceremony (four weeks ago!) on June 24, 2014.

Our ceremony was planned for 2:00pm, and we were told to be there 15 minutes early, so naturally, we got there at 1:30pm. Peruvians are on Latin America time (AKA things never start on time), so we wanted to make sure we got there with plenty of time to straighten things out, if needed.

The room was an average size, with a table at the front and 4 chairs in front of it, and a big chair behind it. There were windows to let natural light and air in. About 20 chairs filled the rest of the room… seats for our guests, family, and friends.

People we invited began showing up a few minutes before 2:00, and we were getting nervous and excited! I hadn’t eaten anything all day besides a blueberry Larabar, and my stomach was in knots because I didn’t know what to expect. (Heads up, it’s really nothing to be nervous about!)

By 2:05, a few friends were trickling in, and we began wondering where the judge or man marrying us was. At 2:15 we went into the office down the hall and asked what the deal was. About 2:30 the judge/official walked in and finally we got started.

He read through all the marriage laws in Spanish, asked that our witnesses each read a little bit and insert our names into it, and then asked us individually if we accept, to which we responded, “lo acepto.” The papers were slid across the desk for me to sign first, then JB, then our witnesses, and we were declared official and were asked to kiss!

It lasted no longer than 15 minutes, and I think there were a few hundred pictures taken by everyone who attended! (No, really.) Here are just a few from before, during, and after the civil ceremony, when a group of our friends went out for chicken! :)

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with our little nephew & niece

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My family + new family!

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With our witnesses

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In true Peruvian fashion, Padre made a toast  and then he proceeded to gulp down the pisco sour that the waiters had brought for us! It was hilarious because he didn’t know it was alcohol… or maybe he did?! :p

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