Christmas in Curaçao: A Magical Season Of Delicious Dishes
The holiday season is upon Curaçao and you can feel the festivities taking hold of the island as they do every year. People are buying Christmas trees, putting up Christmas lights, and beautiful and colorful decorations now adorn the squares of Punda and Otrobanda. You can definitely feel some magic in the air.
For many Curaçaoans this is also a time to feel some magic in their stomachs. For Christmas time on the island is also a time for the enjoyment of delicious dishes that only come around during this time of year. And none is more in demand than the immensely popular ayaka, a corn dough stuffed with any number of meat or poultry fillings, raisins and pitted olives, and wrapped in plantain leaf. You will find it in practically every Curaçaoan household around Christmas time.
It has many names in the Caribbean and Latin America. In Venezuela it is called hallaca. In the Dominican Republic it is known as guanimos. In Puerto Rico it is called pasteles and in Trinidad and Tobago it is called pastelle. But in Curaçao it is simply called ayaka and it is absolutely delicious and the best of them all. It simply doesn’t feel like Christmas on the island without it boiling in the pot in someone’s kitchen.
Many Curaçaoans in the Netherlands who can’t make the trip down to their beloved island for the holidays feel the same way, which is why during this season they place orders en masse at catering companies that specialize in Curaçaoan delicacies. In the past the orders became so many that caterers had to refuse them after a certain amount otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to enjoy their own Christmas with their own families.
But the ayaka is not the only thing you will find on the table during the holidays in Curaçao. There are other delicious dishes that accompany it. These are the pekelé (salted herring), sùlt (pig ear in sour and pepper), ham di pasku (roasted ham, another very popular Curaçaoan Christmas dish) and the Kerstbrood, or sweet Christmas bread.
Christmas time is the best time on the island and the food that is reserved for this time of the year plays a very important part in the creation of the dushi atmosphere. It gives the island its extra dosis of dushi.