Venezuela’s Popular Christmas Dish In Danger of Disappearing

It is mid-December and Venezuelans are looking for the main ingredients of a popular dish, hallacas. The dish, which is similar to a tamale, has plenty of ingredients but most of the population has decided to go for something more affordable or not plan anything at all due to the skyrocketing prices.

Hallacas are popular among Venezuelans this time of the year. The dish is eaten throughout most of December and even the early days of January. But this year, things could be different as the dish contains so many ingredients that are either difficult to find or buy. Hallacas include beef, pork or chicken but those ingredients are just the start. Other ingredients include corn flour, banana leaves, potatoes, raisins and garbanzo beans. They are all expensive and only getting pricier with the country’s hyperinflation.

In previous years, families would prepare many for the month of December but the dish is now in danger. The prices are so high that many will skip on eating hallacas this December. Hallacas also used to be given away for free by families and friends but that tradition is now mostly a thing of the past. Other foods used in the dish such as bread, ham and vegetables for the salads have also increased.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world but a high percentage of the population is being affected by the hyperinflation. One dollar is now worth 102,000 Bolivars in the black market, where most of the population goes to exchange the currency. Most of the prices in the country are based on the value of the dollar in the black market.

The government recently announced a 100,000 Bolivar bill to keep up with the inflation and reduce the amount of cash needed to buy products but the bill is already worth less than a dollar. The bill was worth around $2.30 at the time it was announced.

Hallacas had a price between 2,000 – 4,000 Bolivars last year but they are now selling for over 40,000 Bolivars in some supermarkets across the country. The opposition said earlier this month that the inflation of November was 56.7 percent. They added that the prices in the first eleven months had increased 1,369 percent.

The International Monetary Fund said back in October that the country’s inflation rate might be over 2,300 percent next year. Venezuela’s Central Bank has not released any official numbers since 2015.