Hallacanálisis 2015: By the Numbers

The results are in. As of 11:30 a.m. on Christmas day, 452 of you participated in our Hallaca Survey. And the winner is…Miss Colombia!

Erm, uh, right. This is serious.

The complete results are available in two parts:

Discussion

Probably the most surprising aspect of the survey is the general lack of consensus even on tiro-al-suelo ingredients like, y’know, raisins in the adorno. I found this confusing, and upsetting.

While 335 of you answered correctly that pasitas are at least important and, more likely, crucial, a shocking 53 of you wanted no pasitas in your hallacas. You might as well not put any masa in ’em at that point.

Pasitas

Our sample skews caraqueño, as is clear from the general rejection of things like potatoes, egg, fish and tongue in your hallacas.

Andinos and Orientales, look away now:

Papa

Huevo

In an alarming reflection of our oligarchic skew (mijo es un blog sobre Venezuela en inglés, what were you expecting?) 153 of you were in favor of almonds in your adorno – the ultimate mantuano affectation.

A clear – but small – plurality of you rejected this:

Almendras

There’s a curious split on the hot-button issue of pickled vegetables in the guiso. In my family, questioning this is like questioning the virgin birth – outright apostasy that renders you barely suited to celebrating Christmas at all.

My sister and my niece – our clan Guisomeisters – even kick it up a notch and call for encurtidos-en-mostaza, following (I believe) Scannone’s red book. Pickled-vegetables-in-mustard have a distinctive taste that’s sort of the cornerstone of the guiso I’m used to.

But while a small plurality of you go for pickled vegetables, 63% of you reject the in-mustard kind. Time to have a deep session of the Three Rs with our Guiseras:

Encurtidos

I was surprised by how divisive bacon and smoked bacon were in the adorno section. I’d never even considered this a possibility, so realizing strong minorities swear by it was another wake up call.

Of course, everything is better with bacon. But hallacas, too?

Tocinetas

The open-ended questions yielded some interesting suggestions. Some of you make the sofrito with olive oil. ‘Mmmmmmkay. Worcestershire Sauce makes a cameo appearance. Re-‘mmmmmkay. Several people wanted spicy sauce, in particular for the bollos. Takes all kinds, I suppose! (Then again, some of you openly called for mayonnaise, which is just objectively wrong.)

I asked you to write in what the most important thing was – hoping for kitchen tips and tricks – but I had something else entirely coming: an earthquake of family love and a veritable tsunami of booze. In fact, it seems to be about 50-50 the split between those of you who think having your nearest and dearest right there and those who think getting properly tanked is the key. I’ll be salomonic and say both!

But we did get a handful of proper kitchen tips out of it:

  • Macerar pimenton rojo en aceite como colorante en lugar de onoto. Maiz pilado en lugar de harina pan.
  • Que pasen 5 días en la nevera.
  • Que la masa quede finita pero sin romperse. Es un arte. Una hallaca de masa gruesa es burrera, ordinaria, burda
  • Preparación de la masa con maíz amarillo PILADO, no con harinas precocida, sin importar la marca. La textura definitivamente es mas suave y sabrosa. Ahh, si … no se olvide de congelar las hallacas inmediatamente después de atarlas. Otra cosa, después de hervirlas, dejarlas unos 10 minutos antes de servir, por supuesto, con un picantico hecho en casa. So there!

Some answers gave a tantalizing glimpse of decades’ old family traumas:

  • Que mi abuela me prepare una hallaca especial con los ingredientes que me gusta pero que mi tío borracho todos los años se la coma “por accidente”.

Then one person – one intuits an emigrant – said it all in one word:

  • Organización!

We got a bit of snark and social commentary in answers here:

  • Lo más importante, sin lugar a dudas, es que se escribe H-A-Y-A-C-A. Con Y. Se los juro.
  • 100℅ libre de gaitas y de pasas :p
  • Beber desde temprano para que cuando solo quede amarrar hallacas puedas alegar estar demasiado ebrio (: (que tipo tan mala conducta…)
  • ¿Skype? Para hablar con la familia en el exilio en 4 continentes y 15 zonas horarias… (I hear ya…)

I especially like the righteous indignation in this one:

  • Yo no entiendo ese asunto de amasar la masa. En mi casa la masa se prepara mas bien tipo aguadita (se va añadiendo la harina pan al caldo de gallina con el onoto hasta que apenas tiene la consistencia adecuada), se extiende en la hoja con una cuchara (nada de eso de estar aplastando una bola de masa en la hoja, esa vaina así queda durísima).

But for sure this guy gets the prize for the best “lo más importante es”:

  • Por fin bajarme de la mula y suscribirme a Caracas Chronicles!

Word.

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