Friday, 30 March 2012

Different Colours and Faces: The Archaeology of the Hallaca

The Hallaca (ah-jac-kah)/La Hallaca: The Christmas classic of the Venezuelan table is one of the oldest culinary traditions and most emblematic representations of the cultural blended in this country.

The history of this dish covers about 500 years of cultural encounters between the Spanish and the native inhabitants of Venezuela. The connection between the two cultures is seen very clearly in the confection and in the ingredients of this delicious dish. On one hand, we have the use of corn and plantain leaves. This represent the indo-american culture. On the other hand, we have the use of stewed meats, with olives, almonds, raisins, and other vegetables representative of the Mediterranean culture. According to Rosenblat, the origin of the word Hallaca is from the ethnic group called Tupi-Guarani, which means bulk or intricate. 500 yeas ago this native group couldn't expect that this definition would represent the current Venezuelan culture so well. 

This dish is also representative of the Venezuelan culture where we see different races living in harmony most of the time. As we see racial peace in Venezuela, it would be nice if we could also see political peace as well.

I would recommend to read the book: Rosemblat, Angel. Buenas y Malas Palabras en el Castellano de Venezuela. Madrid: Editorial Mediterraneo, 1969.  

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