In the Americas and all around the world, what we all have in common, is that our great-grand parents made sure that those typical or classical dishes for Christmas were passed on throughout generations.
Case in point is the Hallaca, which is made through Central and South America and has many manes like Tamal, Hayaca, Tamale, Envulto, chachas, chalas, Humitas rellanas and the list goes on.
Hallaca with chicken salad and picadillo[ Oriente style]
In Venezuela making hallacas is serious business. When I was child living in Venezuela I remember seeing people having big discussions about whose hallacas were best.
It’s a family affair, the process is long and involves everyone, especially family members who reunite to make big batch to eat during ‘La Navidad’ or Christmas.
The Families work like an assembly line. The grandmothers clean the plantain leaves, which the hallacas are wrap up with, the Moms make the guiso [stew and fillings] and masa [dough], the youngest stuff and wrap them; the eldest tie them and they all cook and eat them.
Other interesting dishes that we make for Navidad are: Pan de Jamon [Ham bread] which is stuffed with smoked ham, panchetta and raisins; Ensalada de Gallina [chicken salad], Torta Navideña [Christmas cake] and Ponche Crema [eggnog]
Rolling up the pan de Jamon
Pan de Jamom
Pan de Jamon with chicken salad
Some of the ingredients for the Christmas cake and pan de Jamon
When talking about hallacas in Venezuela everyone will say “Las mejores hallacas son las de mi mamá” which translates to “my mom makes the best hallacas”.
Without Hallacas, Pan de Jamon, Torta Navideña and Ponche crema it would not be Navidad in Venezuela.
Thinking of those good memories, I decided to do something: I decided to do a class to introduce my style of Venezuelan cooking to new generations of Toronto foodies, who are looking for something different for this Christmas. The class took place last November 19 at the Kingsway LCBO.
I was very surprise by the great comments that I got from the guests at the class.
They really enjoyed the food and the history that it came with it.
Now you can have the change to taste this delicious dishes at Arepa Cafe, which is located at 490 Queen Street West.
Special thanks to lcbo’s Joanne Leese for your continued support on celebrating Latin American food and culture through my cooking classes.
Yours, celebrating the holidays, Venezuelan style,
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