Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

The Empanada Trail – a trip around the globe after the world's best snack ever

Fair enough, I won't be a hypocrite I confess: every so often I do follow Il Grande Fratello (The Big Brother), the TV show on Canale 5 erroneously, it would seem, defined a 'Reality Show'. Erroneously, as it would appear that nearly all participants had some – even if minimum – previous TV exposure and they look prompted by the producers to create audience-attracting situations. But this is a different story; we won't be distracted by the incredible stupidity of our TV!
Last night, the Big Brother participants/actors received from their families home made food. Among smelly cheese and veal cutlets with mushrooms, the exotic and arrogant current beauty queen could get emotional with and choke on 'empanadas', lovingly prepared by her Argentinean mum.

But, what is an empanada? The word is obviously Spanish, and literally means 'breaded', which is quite misleading, as it suggests cotoletta alla milanese or perhaps fish fingers. An empanada is a kind of turnover or calzone, filled with meat, fish, vegetables, cheese or a combination of the above, baked or fried in vegetable oil or more often in animal fat. Dimensions, filling, cooking methods vary a lot according to the geographical area. I am not sure where or how this delicacy was invented, in fact you may find it, under different names, almost everywhere, and here we are finally at the real topic of this pseudo-article.

The very first time I ever tasted what would end up being an empanada, I was in a residential neighbourhood in Dublin, the capital city of the green and charming Irish Republic. Joan/Joanna/Anna (many in West Cork are not sure of their first name…) calls them curry puffs, and she prepares them, lovingly, on Halloween night, for her children and friends. Hers are delicious fried turnovers, filled with spicy mince and potatoes; there also is a vegetarian version, with peas, carrots, corn, and the ever-present potatoes (we are in Ireland after all!).

Curry puffs can't help but remind us of their exotic grandparents: the samosas, well popular outside the Indian continent too, and especially in the home of the ancient colonizers these Countries share, hence the origin of the recipe used by Joan, who lived for a long time in England.
Samosas are little parcels generally triangular shaped, filled with very spicy potatoes and vegetables, fried in vegetable oil.

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