Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
One of the most beloved of Venezuelan national dishes, the hallaca is typically served during the Christmas holiday. It is a mixture of beef, pork, capers, raisins, and olives wrapped in maize (cornmeal dough) bound within a banana leaf with string and then steamed.
A little bit European, a little bit indigenous, and african-influenced, the hallaca is said to have originated from the plantation days of colonial Venezuela when there was still slave ownership. The bits of pork and beef wrapped in cornmeal and banana leaf reflect the practice of the plantation owners donating leftover christmas scraps to the slaves who would provide their own leaf and cornmeal for subsequent preparation and cooking.
A similar explanation of its origin pinpoints the similarity of the hallaca to the Spanish empanada gallega (Galician pastry), positing that the filling of the hallaca is identical -- with the principal substitution to the recipe being that of the flour with maize, and the banana leaf substituting for the expensive iron casts not readily available to the new world at the time.
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