Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas in Venezuela

Christmas in Venezuela is a unique experience. It is celebrated with family, noisy fireworks, and hallacas!
I am sure my mother-in-law makes the best hallacas in Venezuela!
Hallacas are best compared to Mexican tamales but not picate (spicy hot).
The masa (dough) is made with corn meal, water, salt, and pig fat. Once that is made then it is flatten on an oiled banana leaf. The meat filling (a spicy soup-like mixture of pork, chicken, vegetables, and spices) is added on top of the masa, then onion, bell pepper, 3 raisins, 1 or 2 green olives (with the pit), potato, and finally boiled eggs (eastern Venezuela version). Finally the masa is folded over this pile of goodies, and the banana leaf is folded over the masa to compress it and hold it together. The banana leaf is then bundled together with string. The hallaca is now ready to be cooked by boiling in water.
Traditionally this is served with "pan de jamon" (ham bread; which is a tasty bread baked with ham, olives, and raisins inside), casabe (cassava bread), and washed down with a soft drink; usually Pepsi or Frescolita. It is all very tasty!

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