A new record has been set for the largest pot of soup in the world. In Caracas, Venezuela, a gigantic steel pot containing 3,960 gallons of Sancocho stew broke Mexico’s record by 2,547 gallons.
For those who may dismiss this latest project by the Venezuelan government as something irrelevant and trite, read this article and think again. Sancocho stew is actually a popular national dish of the country. It usually consists of chicken, fish, plantains, yucca, cilantro, corn and potatoes. But is there more to this soup than a giant appetizer?
While breaking into the Guinness World Records is regarded as a success, the actual stew is more of a success by itself. Food minister Rafael Oropeza even gave it the nickname Bolivarian stew in honor of South American Independence Hero Simon Bolivar and of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’ socialist movement. As a matter of fact, all 15,000 liters of Sancocho stew could fill empty stomachs of around 70,000 people! I’m pretty sure a lot of Venezuelans were fed well on that day.
However, there could be another interpretation of this soup success besides feeding a lot of people. Recently, Chavez has been propagating a campaign on education. He reportedly threatened to close down private schools that refused to accept his socialist manner of learning and was quoted to have said, “Education based on capitalist ideology has corrupted children’s values.”
While Chavez appears to have a noble cause, there are still mixed reactions regarding the issue. Sociologist Antonio Cova belives that this kind of campaign is similar to how communist regimes begin. However, Chavez’ brother and Education minister Adan Chavez claims that the goal is rather to develop critical thinking among the people.
There may be some truth to Chavez’ earlier statement about education. Globalization has indeed infiltrated the education sector. Perhaps it’s worth taking a second look at the Sancocho Stew. Maybe it’s not just a stew but rather a symbol of something more important in terms of preserving culture and tradition.