Origin and history
of hallacas

Latin-American culture is a mixture of indigenous, European and African influences. The strong contrast of flavour and colour in the food reflect this.

One the most exotic is undoubtedly the Hallaca Venezuelan national dish. It combines the indigenous bananas leaves, a rich Spanish filling of beef, chicken, pork, olives and vegetables, with aromatic African spices.

It's origin is unclear. It could have arisen for the Spanish colonists homesickness for their tasty and elaborate meals. On this view we might relate the Hallaca to the Empanada Gallega (a pasty from Galicia). The filling is basically similar, with maize substituting for flour and the banana leaf wrapping filling, the lack of the iron moulds the colonists could have used hard they brought them from Spain.

Another an alternative theory attributes the Hallaca to Venezuelan rich ranches where servants and slaves used the leftovers from the tables of their masters, whose meals had a distinctly European character. Adapting these eclectic ingredients to their African and indigenous tastes, the slaves created one of the most creative, flavourful and richly seasoned Latin-American dish.

An hallaca, the classic Christmas dish, eaten throughout December.