On Hayaca

This weekend (and I mean the whole weekend) was hayaca time, because my host mom wanted me to try her hayaca before I move out. My current host family is from the interior, from a department/state called Norte de Santander. They moved here in grade school, but the three ladies have kept several recipes alive in the house! Perhaps the crown jewels of the recipe box are the hayacas in the Cucuta style, the city where they were born. These are kind of like tamales on steroids, to give them a VERY broad translation into American cultural knowledge.

My host mom woke up at 4:15 am on Saturday to start the process.

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First, she prepped all the ingredients individually:

Boiled and seasoned garbanzos

Boiled and seasoned chicken legs

a load of onions, bell peppers, green onions and oil

a bowl of raisins

a bowl of capers (giant ones!)

the masa made of corn flour

the leaves for wrapping the hayacas

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Then, the process begins. First, she preps the leaves with a swirl of oil, then she rolls a ball of masa and flattens it until it shows a print of the leaf pattern.

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Then come all the fillings, expertly placed into a perfect pile by the years of experience in her hands.

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Once the piles are perfect (she even placed the raisins individually–it’s an art!), the whole thing is folded into the leaves and neatly tied up with string (green leave packages tied up with string are now one of my newest favorite things for breakfast.) 

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And there is one hayaca, all prepped and ready for the olla on the stove. Rinse and repeat–25 more times!!

This woman is incredible, and I’m so glad she wanted me to taste the magic of Cucuta! Sunday morning we had a breakfast party with tios and tias, everyone kissing their fingertips and talking about their childhood in Cucuta. Que rico, para chuparse los dedos! 

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