In Galicia, Spain, they say that
making love and kneading dough are
two things that shouldn’t be
rushed. The first empanadas I encountered
were about as far away from a bedroom
as one could imagine. I was in a laundromat
in Key West. One of the charming things
about some of the laundromats there
is that they often have tiny Cuban
coffee stands in them, like the “M
and M Laundromat” on White Street
and the historical “Margaret
Truman Launderette” on, where
else, of course, but Truman Avenue.
Little heated cabinets showcase varieties
of empanadas that are filled with
mixtures primarily made of chicken,
pork and beans.
Featured in the cuisine of every
New World country as a snack, appetizer
or street food, empanadas (in Spanish,
literally “baked in pastry”)
are crescent-shaped turnovers made
from different kinds of dough, ranging
from gossamer-like phyllo to coarse
cornmeal, and stuffed with well-seasoned
combinations of meat, chicken, seafood
and vegetables, or fruit mixtures
and dessert elements.
Their most common name is empanada
but they are also known as empadas,
empadãos, empadinhas, pasteles
and more. They vary in size from Colombia’s
2 inches long caucana, a favorite
cocktail party tidbit stuffed with
pipián paste of crushed peanuts
and hot peppers, to Bolivia’s
6 inches long salteña, stuffed
with cubed beef and potatoes and stinging
peppers, a meal in itself.
The larger ones are intended for
first courses or components of salads,
while the smaller ones, called empanaditas
serve as restorative morsels. Empanadas
go far back in history and may have
originated in the Middle East, but
they were carried throughout the world
by travelers and traders and now peripatetic
cooks and chefs.
Empanadas are either baked or deep-fried,
seldom, if ever, steamed as the Chinese
do with their dumplings. But those
who worry about too much fat in their
diet needn’t concern themselves.
Wherever empanadas are fried, there
is usually a baked version. In the
U.S., Latin American bakeshops sell
fresh or frozen empanadas to be either
baked or fried at home.
Whether baked or fried, enjoy your
empanadas, nice and slowly…
I'm Norman Van Aken and that's my
"Word on Food".