LIMA – A number of traditional Venezuelan dishes have been added to the Christmas table in Lima after three years of migration.
Festive foods from the stricken South American country such as hallacas (corn dough filled with meat), pan de jamon (a ham roulade), and pernil (roast pork), which this year will cook, have made their way to Peru’s capital city.
In Lima, Christmas dinner usually consists of roast turkey with applesauce and salad, glazed ham or pork, and panettone cake followed by a mug of hot chocolate.
Venezuelan Auxiliadora Pineda, 54, said each region has a unique way of cooking the traditional Christmas dish hallacas.
“In Tachira, we do it with chickpeas, chicken stew, pork, meat, capers, olives and raisins, everything is chopped into small squares,” she told EFE.
Pineda came to Lima two and a half years ago with her family where she met her former neighbor Nancy Pineda, 51.
The two women work in a sewing workshop with another colleague Yajaira Alvarez, 54, in the Magdalena district.
Alvarez will celebrate her first year in Peru on Friday; she came to Lima alone, joining more than 865,000 Venezuelans who have moved to Peru in the last three years fleeing the crisis in their home country.
She lives in the district of Comas and will celebrate Christmas with Venezuelan friends since her two sons live in the Peruvian city of Chiclayo and her two other daughters still live in Venezuela.
Alvarez said she misses regional dishes such as empanadas, which families usually prepare together.
“It’s two days doing the hallacas, two preparing and two cooking them, they are reasons to get the whole family together, that’s our tradition,” she added.
Nancy Pineda, a public accountant who lives in Lima with her husband and youngest son, will spend her second Christmas in the Peruvian capital.
She said last year they made hallacas, pernil and cream punch.
A Venezuelan Christmas is usually accompanied by traditional folk music from the Maracaibo area.
The three women said they were looking forward to the day they can return to Tachira, although they know that due to the economic situation and political crisis it is not likely to be soon.
“You expect the situation in Venezuela to be fixed, but that’s something that’s going to take a process,” Alvarez said.
“That is something that takes time, only God knows when it will be and how it will be.”
Pineda said she hopes to be able to visit her homeland in 2020 “not so much to return as to stay, but to visit my family.”
Alvarez said the crisis in Venezuela has “greatly damaged” families and “marriages formed here have been divided.”
Since mid-2019, the majority of Venezuelan migrants to Peru were women under 30, who were joining family members.
It is estimated the community will reach one million people in 2020.