Hailing from Colombia and Venezuela, hallacas are South America's version of tamales. They consist of ground beef, pork or chicken mixed with other foods such as cheese, olives or raisins, surrounded by a ground-corn dough, wrapped in banana leaves and gently boiled. Hallacas are served as both an appetizer and main dish.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.