Christmas is near and that means family, presents and great food. In this post, which is going to be a bit more personal than usual, I'll tell you about the food I eat during the holidays. To begin my story, I'll tell you that I live in Venezuela, South America. Our Christmas traditions are very different from those in the U.S., but they are equally beautiful and enjoyable.
Our most important holiday dish is hallacas, which has been a very important tradition in my country for hundreds of years. Hallacas are quite difficult to describe, but very easy to enjoy. Some people relate them to Mexican tamales, since they are very similar. Wikipedia defines the hallaca as “a mixture of beef, pork, chicken, capers, raisins, and olives wrapped in maize (cornmeal dough), bound with string within plantain leaves, and boiled or steamed afterwards”.
|In the making|
Making hallacas requires a lot of work, so we usually prepare enough to last for the whole holiday season. After long hours of preparing, assembling and cooking, hallacas are frozen and warmed just before they're eaten. Since there's a lot of work, it takes more than one person to make them. This year, it was me and my mother, preparing 75 hallacas during one long day.
I will not elaborate on the preparation process in this post (I'll leave that for another one). What I'd like to talk about is the tradition and atmosphere surrounding the preparation. My mother is extremely dedicated to her hallacas and she would make them by herself if she could. She wants them to be perfect in every sense, especially since cooking is her pride and joy.
Spending so many hours working side by side with my mother is a lovely experience. This year, she told me many tales of her childhood and how different things were back then. They lived in a farm and didn't have many of the luxuries we enjoy nowadays. Listening to her helps me understand her more, even though I'll never be able to truly picture her as a young child.
|Ready to be eaten by me|
In Venezuela, there's a traditional saying that goes “la mejor hallaca la hace mi mamá” (the best hallaca is made by my mom). I couldn't agree more: my mom's hallacas are the best! To all of my readers, ¡buen provecho y Feliz Navidad!
P.S.: This post is dedicated with all my love to my family and Venezuelan friends, especially those who aren't going to spend Christmas here. I hope these pictures remind you of home. Miss you guys!