Courtesy of: The Morning News
By: Rosalie Klein
ORANJESTAD — A special seasonal treat only available for a few short weeks a year, can be found in island supermarket freezer sections right now. Vacationers, particularly those in timeshares or apartments with simple cooking facilities, should not miss the opportunity to sample this authentic bit of regional cuisine, ayacas.
Made only at the end of the year, they are a staple of the holiday table. The template for the traditional ayaca is standard, but each cook brings their own flavor and flair to the final, savory packet of holiday goodness. A few years ago, a local paper even hosted a “Best Ayaca” contest, where the individual talent of each chef in enhancing the required basics could be truly appreciated by ayaca aficionados.
Stewed Chicken (sometimes with raisins, sometimes without), a prune, a pickled onion, a chunk of ham, a cashew and a olive, are encased in funchi, the thick cornmeal dough known to the world as polenta. The quantity of each ingredient can vary according to the preferences of the chef, but this mélange of salty and sweet, mild and pungent produces this very unique and satisfying seasonal treat.
The combination is then wrapped in banana leaves and kept frozen until ready for eating. Simply boil for about 15-20 minutes, unwrap and enjoy!
THE MORNING NEWS enjoyed their holiday treat purchased from Save-a-Lot supermarket in Bubali, which had a goodly supply…but they will go fast! The cost of each is $4, and they come “Pica” or “Sin Pica”-which means “Spicy” or “Mild.”
For a quick lunch or party treat, ayacas can’t be beat. When visiting local markets, pick up a few for a true taste of Aruba’s holiday traditions.