Friday, 23 December 2011

Venezuela’s dinner on Christmas Eve: a reflection of a tradition

The topic of Indigenous is very close to me because...well you see, my grandparents from both sides came from Europe (Italy (mother’s side) and Spain (father’s side)) to Venezuela (South America) and married (both of them) native people. I do not remember much of my indigenous grannies because they died extremely young and so was I. One of them was more native than the other but they surely were different from our neighbours [the colour of their skin, the way they dressed – one being against wearing any shoes! and the hair – so black, so shiny].

Today I will bring a Venezuelan Christmas tradition which is specific to this holiday since I consider this dish to bear a resemblance of what I am, a mixture! Indeed the dish I bring you today is influenced by the Europeans and Indigenous Venezuelan: the ‘hallaca’.

The hallaca is the result of our historical process. Its provenience and name has different versions but I would like to keep to my belief, to what I was taught.
When and how was it born?
The strong contrast of flavours and colours is evidence of both influences. It combines meat, olives, raisins, cappers and vegetables wrapped in a maize dough; this filled dough is then wrapped in bananas (or plantain) leaves tied with a string and ready to be cooked in boiling water. The tale is that in colonial times the owners of lands would give leftovers to their servants and slaves, and they received this in their traditional cornmeal and plantain leaves for later cooking.
The name - its meaning
It is said that the word ‘hallaca’ comes from one of the Indian language called Guarani and derived from the word ‘ayúa’ or ‘ayuar’ which means to mix or stir, and because of a linguistic degradation was renamed ‘Ayacara’ and today it is known as hallaca.

In this blog we will be covering every aspect of Indigenous people but from the legal point, yet we also need to be realistic and thus, there is the need to identify ourselves with the minority. Indeed, it is good to remind not only to ourselves but to our readers that indigenous people influenced what we are today, and they are still part of us and our society.

More info here and here.

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