Hope you aren’t too stuffed to enjoy today’s food holiday. April 8 is National Empanada Day!
Empanadas come in all shapes and sizes, and there are different versions throughout the world. They originated in Spain and Portugal and are similar to calzones, which are a variation of the Indian samosa; all are essentially a stuffed pastry that can be either sweet or savory. A cookbook published in 1520 features a recipe for a seafood empanada. Made of a thin circular dough patty folded over whatever is stuffed inside, empanadas became popular with the working classes, who were able to carry around the sandwich-sized pie-like lunch meal; this was especially convenient considering Star Wars lunch boxes wouldn’t be invented for another 400 years. Regional favorites include meat, hardboiled egg, olives, and raisins in Argentina; guava, pineapple, and jelly in Costa Rica; spicy tuna and chili peppers in Indonesia; and pumpkin, yams, sweet potatoes, and cream in Mexico.
For some reason, I always pictured empanadas as a dessert item. Maybe that’s because there’s a booth at our local farmer’s market that sells sweet empanadas filled with a variety of fruits and dusted with sugar; these are very pie-like. Unfortunately, we were out of town and unable to stop by the farmer’s market to pick some up, so I had to do a little searching around town to find empanadas. I found out Taco Time, a regional Mexican fast-food place, had them, so I swung by the food court in the mall after work to pick up a couple. Granted, they don’t look like traditional empanadas, which are usually half-moon shaped, but they were filled with cherry and berry, dusted with cinnamon and sugar, and tasted pretty damn good.