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:


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.


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:



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:


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:


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?


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!


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  1. Rejection of potatoes, egg, fish and tongue in hallacas is not just a Caracas thing. In cities with a stronger historical heritage like Nueva Valencia, from where a lot of the first settlers of the rookie Caracas came, those ingredients would never be considered.

  2. Hubiera sido informativo preguntar por la región de quienes participamos en la encuesta, para identificar las tendencias regionales: caraqueños, orientales, zulianos, andinos, llaneros, centrales, guayaneses, de todo un poco.

  3. Not mentioned is that now getting all the ingredients is sometimes a matter of luck and requires a lot of effort and planning , the quality is not always the one desired , also getting the help to make the hallacas is more difficult ( so many family members have now moved abroad and so many of the old trusted family maids have dissapeared ), Some people I know have entirely dispensed with hallacas this year. Still its still for most families a big ocassion to get together and join in a shared effort .

    My wife ( very steeped in the traditional lore of hallaca making) tells me that almonds are a must ingredient in Caracas style hallacas (not just a mantuano thing) , that it is acceptable to add tiny amounts of mustard pickles to the guiso, (her greatgrandaunt, a very traditional old style lady did it) , and that eggs are an ingredient of certain kind of hallacas which were for rapid consumption but not for those which were meant to be eaten later.

    And by the way quite right that this blog has earned the receipt of contributions (although a yearly amount for some of us does make it easier) !!

    • Emiliana,

      Our distant proto-human ancestors fought for hundreds of thousands of years to attain our position at the top of the food chain, eating instead of being eaten. Surely, you could honor them, just once a year, by sampling a delicious three-meat guiso hallaca?

    • 73% of respondents pronounced the Veggiehallaca inadmisible.

      27% can live with it.

      Bueno, not like veggie’s in VZ are unaccustomed to being an embattled minority…

    • So what is in that guiso?

      (Please Lord, not tofu, please, anything but tofu Lord. I’ll go to Church again, Lord, if she says anything but tofu)

      Uhm, so what are the ingredients you usually see in a Vegetarian Guiso?

      • My dad replaced the meat with beans and kept all other ingredients like encurtidos, pimentones and aceitunas. They were good though I prefer bollos.

  4. […] カラカスクロニクルでは特に意見の分かれるギソの中身とアドルノについて読者アンケートを取り、ベネズエラ人の考える完璧なアヤカ像に迫りました。、何が不可欠で何が不要と考えられているかについて質問しています。結果はここ→ Hallacanálisis 2015: By the Numbers […]

    • I love GoogleTranslate sometimes ->

      Ferisunabida! Venezuela Christmas tradition cuisine Ayaka
      Kanako Noda / 33 minutes ago

      In Venezuela we will eat food that Ayaka (Hallacas) over the New Year from Christmas. This is a variety of the same corn flour and make the arepa of staple food xi is as it wrapped in the leaves of plantain together (such as meat and vegetables), Tamale, which is food in Latin America of around (both Tamar) It is home cooking that is similar to.

      Ayaka it will take the 2nd at a minimum to make.

      First on the first day it makes the main ingredients called Gi-seo. Formic Seo took the soup stock taken in the chicken, where pork, is what you’ve cooked a long time, such as the beef and vegetables and pickles together. It takes half a day to make it. Also wipe the leaves of the plantain one by one for the next day of work, and prepares the shape and cut it to be easy to wrap. Part of the body of the chicken that was used to take the soup stock Leave especially beautiful because later use.

      Day 2 is the production. This is a big event, is often to be Ayaka making party to work to gather in relatives (Fiesta). Under the direction of Ayaka production commander in the family, we can make everyone in the Wai Wai.

      First prepare the dough called masa.

      The corn flour to make the arepa, and kneading by the addition of fat that was red colored by the addition of nuts called Onoto (annatto). Fabric arepa is what it was kneaded by adding water to the corn flour, but the masa of Ayaka oil is based. You will see how much “heavy” cloth This alone. The kneaded dough is ready in the dumpling-shaped.

      It will provide additional ingredients called Adorno (ornament). Boiled chicken was used to make the formic Seo, olives, capers, raisins (or dried prunes), onion, paprika, etc. is popular.

      Day 2 of the main is the task of wrapping all in the leaves of plantain.

      The leaves of the prepared plantain, a little laid the oil was dissolved Onoto, there crushed topped with dumplings masa, was placed formic Soviet thereon, to further put the Adorno. Finally, close the leaves, further wrapped completely in a different leaf, close tie firmly with octopus straps. This series of work you’ll do a sequence flow work in Min a large table.

      It is a fully complete if Samase is boiled for about an hour and know you have finished wrapping 45. Save in completely cold Once the freezer and you eat warmed again boiled for about 20 minutes before eating. Depending on the family size, but usually several tens making, it is customary Christmas, New Year’s Eve, the New Year’s event time to eat Ayaka.

      Because Ayaka is a home cooking, secret recipe of ancestors Den nationwide come can be found in each home. “Contact Zoni juice is Suma only or miso, what you put in or to immediately” in Japan but is the controversy of New Year tradition, become a hot topic in the Christmas season in Venezuela is the “What put to Ayaka.”

      Basic of Ayaka is All Venezuela common, (you can put potatoes in Ayaka in the Andes mountains of potato origin, such as putting a fish in a place close to the sea), which ingredients are different little by the local addition, also for each home You subtly different by preference. You can collide with how to make formic source of family tradition between husband and wife, to be a large cost, whether or not put the almonds in Adorno when working gathered relatives, can be thought of as a part of Ayaka making tradition. In my house, you may be the person you want to formic it to the seasoning of entwined, and a big dispute with a person weak painful is, it became fit to make final two.

      Caracas Chronicles takes the particular contents of formic Soviet and readers questionnaire about Adorno controversial opinion You are now approaching the perfect Ayaka image think of Venezuelans. , What is what I have questions about what is considered unnecessary essential. The results here → Hallacanálisis 2015: By the Numbers

      In particular, whether or not split opinion put the almonds as is Adorno, whether or not put the pickles in formic Seo (green pepper of pickles that have been seasoned with mustard), whether or not put the bacon in formic Soviet Union, it was like.

      In serious Venezuela lack current ones is extremely difficult to align all of the material for making Ayaka. Here and there and looked hard the material in advance, it must prepare for Christmas. Still a lot of Venezuelans I think that had a fun Christmas in the family to make a Ayaka also this year.

      Government for the new parliament held early next year also during this time trying to overturn the will of the people and pressed the opposition would institute Arekore and measures. Opposition coalition also in order to compete with it, we’re running around the clock.

      Although the New Year’s holiday and Venezuela politics does not allow digression, still anyway, Ferisunabida!

        • Too funny! Obviously, the translation algorithms still have a ways to go yet. There is an old story I heard a long time ago, from the early days of translation software development. It has been so long since I heard this story, I don’t even know if it is true or not. They had developed a translation program for English to Russian and the reverse. As a lighthearted experiment, they translated the biblical verse:

          “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

          to Russian and then translated the result back into English. The result was the following:

          “The wine is good, but the meat is spoiled.”

          The better computers and software get, the more we should appreciate the complexity and the subtlety of the human brain.

        • Well, it is based on probabilistic models trained on parallel corpora, as you surely know. There are bound to be less parallel corpora on recipes than on news or agreements. You also know how different Japanese syntax is.
          My bet is that at the final stage there was a “correction” and for that some badly OCR’ed doc was used

          There might have been a rearrangement by going through a bigram model or such and formic got an even worse choice from a text stating formi”c” Soviet (wild guess)


          If you isolate the words Kakano used around guiso, you might currently get this translation: “former SEO”

          • “probabilistic models trained on parallel corpora”

            Wow! You are making me feel like an ignorant camposino. I am not sure what that means, but it sure sounds smart!

          • Roy,

            My grandfather was a humble campesino who produced food for many and who hated the military like few.

            I am incredibly proud of him, so for me campesino, a real one, particularly one who doesn’t believe in shitty military, is an honorary title.

            I also admire good translators. They will always be necessary, as these texts show. It will be easier to replace lawyers than translators…at least for a lot of things.

            Machine translation will keep improving.
            Google has , of course, a lot of people workig full time on this and the infrastructure to more than support them. Still, here you can see a very simple – open source, thus free- system


            Read also the page on statistical machine translation in Wikipedia. It is rather general but some start.
            Take a peak at Philipp Koehn’s introductory book in Amazon (do a “surprise me” several times)

            Still, this topic is not as exciting as other in the general AI-area…like: how can we predict what Diosdado Cabello will say next based on everything he has said so far and what the US agencies have revealed about his crimes 🙂

          • Kep,

            Thanks for the links. It is an interesting subject. I once developed an interest in the subject of linguistics, and read up on it. Based on what I learned then, I think that we are farther away from effective translation software than you might think. The way we use language is highly contextual. Effective translation requires not only knowledge of the languages; it also requires a broad general knowledge of the subject in question in order to select the correct word substitutions. Even a professional human translator must have a working knowledge of the issues under discussion in order to achieve proper translations.

            As for Diosdado, et al, to predict what they are going to say is going to require more than a powerful computer. I say this, because I truly think they are no longer thinking rationally. I think we will need a crystal ball for this, and last time I checked, the store was all sold out of these.

          • Roy,

            I have worked in this area (although I am now working with search engines).
            It depends on what “effective” means for you. It is not effective yet for a lot of things but it does the work for many uses. Mind: it works best between languages that are rather similar, like Spanish and English or English and French and above all with subjects like economics and the like.

            It is not used for delivering something professional for a customer but it is used every second for people to have some idea about many subjects everywhere in the world…it is effective to ease the understanding of people doing millions of little interactions right now. Remember: recipes from Japanese into English or legal texts for legal uses (and not to get just an idea) are just two of thousands of possible uses that can be considered effective or not.

  5. “Contact Zoni juice is Suma only or miso, what you put in or to immediately” in Japan…

    That would be hilarious, but it’s the very phrase that the war dogs of Andromeda have been expecting for the last million years.

    Darn. Oh well. “What put to ayaka,” as they say.

  6. So, I know that is 26th and all, but Capriles and the rest just HAVE to fight in public and everybody looks bad. Are you guys going to write about that?

  7. Yo podre ser un mala conducta! Pero en mi defensa a mi me encargan lavar tooodas las hojas de hallaca (vengan o no pre lavadas y cortadas, dios, este año no consiguieron de esas!) así que compenso el dolor de espalda con alcohol y me escapo de mis labores de amarrar hallaca luego ^_^


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