I have friends from many places in the world and I must say, I still haven’t heard one saying they do not get together during the holidays to cook, laugh and share with their loved ones. We probably have a different menu but certainly the celebration of Christmas is very similar. We gathered around to cook one of the things my older sister likes to include in her Christmas’ menu and that is “Hallacas”. In Panama, is the equivalent of “Tamales”. Since my brother-in-law is from Venezuela, we incorporate this tradition into ours because we like to see him smile and enjoy doing something that brings back memories from when he was little. Of course, it’s an excuse to get together, have a few drinks while talking and laughing about anything and everything. We all had our duties in the making of the hallacas. Some cleaned, some cooked, some folded and some tied little knots to perfection (*Ricardo). But we all spent the afternoon enjoying each other’s company and I could not be happier. I miss my family every day of the year and sometimes, when they get together like this, they call me but it doesn’t feel the same. I am happy to say this time I was present and of course could not stop taking pictures. So, here are a few of the Aue-Forero Hallaca Factory!!!
From Left, my mother, my sister Ileana and my younger sister Vanessa cleaning the Plantain Tree leaf, which is a very important part of this process since it is used as the wrapping for all the ingredients before boiling.My sister cut every single leaf while my mom and I cleaned them before placing the ingredients on top of them. Of course, that was my duty and after that I was allowed to take pictures. Some of the ingredients are capers, raisins and onions. This is the foundation of the hallaca. It’s a mixture of water, oil and masapan (a corn based flour). After you roll it you place it on top of the leave and add the ingredients on top (chicken, raisins, capers, olives and onion).Then my sister folds the leaf, leaving the ingredients inside. My brother-in-law is the only one that can tie the intricate knots so that was his duty, hence the next two images below.Here is my sister wearing her Santa hat on an 80 degree weather!And here is the man of the hour busy at work. Now, let’s boil them and eat!