In many Minnesota households this Thanksgiving, the main meal is all about turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes — or Venezuelan hallacas, Mexican mole, Indian bread pudding and Jamaican jerk-spiced turkey. Six Twin Cities chefs who hail from around the globe tell us, in their own words, what’s on their Thanksgiving tables.
Interviews have been edited and condensed.
My grandpa was born in New York, so in my family, we always have a little bit of Venezuela and a little bit of American culture. For Thanksgiving, we get together and cook the turkey, but we actually eat our Christmas food. So it’s a little bit of both countries mixed in.
There are three or four items we always make. One of them is hallacas. I think hallacas represent Venezuela 100%. Hallacas were made a very long time ago when the Spaniards came to what they called the Indian islands, and Venezuela was a part of that. The Spaniard people would throw away all their leftovers, and the slaves and native people weren’t able to eat any of that. They didn’t have enough food or water or anything. So they started to pick from the floor from the leftovers people threw away, and they started to wrap all these up in plantain leaves and hide it in the ground. And of course, corn, in South America, grows everywhere. So they started to make a dough with corn, and would mix the dough with all these leftovers. And that is what we call today hallacas. It was like surviving, you know?
It’s pork, beef, chicken, raisins, olives, almonds, capers. All of this is cooked in red wine and it’s kind of a stew, but thicker. It’s called guiso. And the plantain is used to wrap all of this up. People think Venezuelan food is similar to Mexican food, and