Venezuelan Government Opens Holiday Fair with Discounted Traditional Foods

Celebrating the official kick-off of the holiday season, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez inaugurated the country’s second annual Christmas Food Fair last Saturday in the capital city of Caracas.

By Edward Ellis - Correo del Orinoco International

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The Hallaca, a Venezuelan traditional food made of steamed corn meal wrapped in a banana leaf and stuffed with various ingredients (YVKE)
The Hallaca, a Venezuelan traditional food made of steamed corn meal wrapped in a banana leaf and stuffed with various ingredients (YVKE)
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The fair, which offers traditional holiday food items and staples at discounted rates to Venezuelan residents, will take place every Saturday until December 30th in various regions across the country.

Savings on many products reach up to 50% in comparison with private markets, ensuring that all residents will have a full table for the holiday season.

“We’re getting prepared to have a happy year’s end with our families,” Chavez exclaimed on Saturday while touring the Christmas fair in Plaza Caracas.

Although the Venezuelan diet is based largely on the staples of rice, chicken and corn flour throughout the year, the holiday season is marked by a diversity of specialty foods that adorn the tables of every home.

Venezuelan Holiday Tradition

Hallacas, a steamed tamalefilled with a diversity of ingredientsdepending on the region, isperhaps the best known and mostimportant holiday food item.

According to officials workingin the social program Mercal incharge of carrying out the nationalfood fair, hallacas will be madeavailable to residents at a price of4.03 bolivars ($0.93) each.

In the private marketplace, PresidentChavez highlighted last Saturday,the price of hallacas is as highas 8.23 ($1.91), translating to a savingsof 51% for those who buy in thegovernment-run Christmas fair.

Another typical holiday dish ispernil, a baked pork leg stuffedwith raisins and olives.Chavez reported that the porkwould be available in the governmentfood fair at a price of 12bolivars ($2.79), contrasting withthe price of 22.50 bolivars ($5.23)in private markets.

“We aren’t looking for profitswith this,” Chavez said of theseven thousand tons of pork thatwill be available to the publicthrough various government-runfood distribution outlets duringthe holiday season.

Nancy Urdaneta, a shopper at aChristmas fair in the city of Maracaiboreferred to the price of porkat 12 bolivars as “outstanding”.

“I’m taking 10 kilos,” she said.“In the other markets they have itat the price of 40 bolivars or more.The savings is huge.”

Carmen Vargas from the stateof Sucre coincided with the opinionof Urdaneta at another faircarried out in the northeasterncoastal city of Cumana.“The price of pork is reallygood. In other markets this productis super expensive. I hope thatMercal continues to organize morefairs like this,” she remarked.

According the Food Ministry,480 tons of food will be distributedto each one of the 372 Christmasfairs across the country.

In addition to the food items,the Christmas fair will also providethe opportunity for residentsto purchase clothing and toysmade in Venezuelan cooperativesand social production units at discounted prices.