I had my last Hallaca of the season yesterday. I was sad it was the last one, mostly because it’s a very quick lunch, and we all know how much I love quick when it comes to waiting for food. La Hallaca, for those who are not from Venezuela, most of you that is, is a typical Venezuelan dish served during Christmas time. It comes from our indigenous roots and we’ve been eating it since the dawn of times. Apparently in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic they have a similar dish, but there they are called pasteles and are made of different ingredients, thus giving you a variety to pick from. In Venezuela we just have one kind (ingredients vary region to region) and the dough is not made from yuka, but from flour.
It’s a tradition to get together in late November or early December and prepare tons of Hallacas family style. In my family we would all convene in someone’s kitchen and make an assembly line. One would clean the leaves, another would prep them, another would put in the dough and spread it, another would assemble el guiso, someone, usually the youngest one, would put in the decorations, or better know as the extras or goodies, someone else would fold, and a couple people (you need two for this) would tie. Now, you see why Latin American families are so big? We need an assembly line every December!
Which we freeze and de-freeze whenever convenient throughout the holidays. If you ever visit someone during this season, you’ll be surely asked “Te caliento una hallaquita?” And the process looks something like this.
and then remove the plantain leaf.
These were made by a friend of mine here in NYC. This year, since I didn’t go home, I bought them and didn’t participate in the party which results from making them. Ah well, there’s always next year.