One of the most renowned and elaborate dishes presented in Venezuelan gastronomy is undoubtedly the hallaca. This masterpiece of our cuisine is the most traditional of the dishes that adorn the Christmas festivities in Venezuela.
The hallaca is the result of the historical process that has lived through out the years.
From its cover of banana leaves to the details that adorn and compose its stew, passing through its primordial ingredient, the mass of corn colored with onoto, the hallaca is the most visible expression of the mestizaje of the Venezuelan people.
Each ingredient has its roots: the banana leaf, used by both the African black and the American Indian, is the wonderful wrapping that covers it; When the leaves are unwrapped , it brings to the present the Venezuelan indigenous past, the cooked dough of corn colored with onoto is the one that welcome us with its splendorous yellow color; then, as you continue to explore your dish, inside the yellow dough you will be allowed to appreciate the arrival of the Spaniards to these lands: meats of chicken, pork and beef, olives, capers, raisins, peppers, onions, garlic … all finely chopped, stewed and beautifully distributed are part of an exquisite delicacy. Its ingredients, all parts of different roots complement each other harmoniously in the hallaca, expression of the mestizaje and color of which Venezuelans are made.
The word “Hallaca” (pronounced AH-YA-KAH) comes from Guaraní and derives from the word “ayúa” or “ayuar” which means to mix or stir. From these words it is presumed that “ayuaca” is a mixed thing, that by linguistic deformation happened to be called “ayaca” . Another version presumes that the word comes from an aboriginal language of the West of the country, whose meaning is “wrapping” or “bojote”.
Whatever the origin of this word, we know that “la hallaca” is completely Venezuelan, both by its name and by its preparation and is pride of our cuisine, because she appears without social distinctions splendid in the Christmas table of all Venezuelans , providing a touch of wonderful taste and flavor to our Christmas.
English version, translated from http://www.venezuelatuya.com/cocina/hallaca.htm