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Film in 4D at the New York Food Film Festival

Mistura’s intense bread baking competition had me salivating.

This past weekend I went to check out the New York Food Film Festival, four nights of food-related screenings served with a tasting menu of some of the items cooked up in the films. It’s like cinema in 4D, and using all of your senses to experience a film is kind of overwhelming – but in a really good way. I went on the Peruvian-themed night, which meant I was offered a traditional Pisco sour the moment I walked in the room. Having recently spent several weeks in Peru, eating traditional, local food cooked by traditional, local people, I felt like I was a pretty well-informed attendee, and I wasn’t sure if the South American cuisine would come off as well Stateside. But one sip of the bartender’s much stronger and thankfully less sweet Pisco sour and I knew it was going to be a good night of food and films.

The main event was MISTURA, a 45 minute, award-winning documentary about the famous Peruvian food festival started by Gaston Acurio, their biggest celebrity chef. Acurio gets a little misty-eyed talking about the culture and history of Peru that inspires him, but the documentary also profiles some, shall we say, more down to earth foodies, like Julio, a potato farmer, and most memorably, Grimanesa, an older woman who runs a super popular street food cart that serves up anticuchos, or beef heart on a stick. And just as I was introduced to her onscreen, I’m handed a succulent beef kebab of my very own to try. See what I mean about a 4D experience? Forget the 3D glasses, just hand me some food!

I wasn’t the only one whose appetite was thoroughly whetted at that point. When the screening was over and the audience was unleashed into the tasting room, food flew off passing trays as if it was our last meal. If you were able to claw your way through the crowd to the main table and stake out a spot, there were scallops, shrimp ceviche, beef curry, rice pudding and these yummy cheese-roll thingies that were gulped down in within minutes. It was all delicious, there just wasn’t enough to feed to hungry hordes. This was only the fifth year of the New York Food Film Fest, and if the crowds are any indication, next year is going to be even bigger and better.