In England we also find empanada's Anglo-Saxon cousins of empanadas: pasties. These are stuffed, oven-baked shortcrust and it would appear they originated in Cornwall, where they were invented during the Middle Age. The classic filling is mince and potatoes, flavoured by tiny onion slices; nowadays there is no limit to the imagination and the availability of the ingredients, so every baker has fun filling their pasties with bacon and eggs, cauliflower, broccoli, chicken, rabbit, mackerel, tuna, cheese, pork, turnip (which is actually one of the favourites, if not essential ingredient!) and why not apples, berries, jam, fruit jelly? As a matter of fact, the original Cornish pasty had two fillings, one meaty and one sweet, so the miners (who in Cornwall as well as Michigan, USA, were big eaters of pasties) could fool themselves and think they were eating a multiple course meal, nibbling both ends of their pasty.
And finally here we are in Latin America: a couple of years ago I had the luck (and as my mother puts it, the audacity!) to quit both work and appartment to backpack around the world, with Mexico, Guatemala and South America as the main destinations.
In Mexico, quesadilla and gringa (alternative version for tourists who do not like the ubiquitous corn flour) can fall back into our definition, being tortillas stuffed with cheese and/or meat, fried in butter or other animal fat. In Ecuador, Bolivia and Argentina I tasted empanadas (eventually the real thing!) simply fantastic, with stuffing sometimes different from the usual mince and potatoes, for instance meat, hard-boiled egg and raisin, mmmm!!!Pastelinhos on the other hand, are the brasileira version of empanada, also filled with ingredients varying from ham and cheese to salted cod!
I'd like to finish off with a provocation: can we include cassone romagnolo and pizza siciliana among the variations of empanada, or would you call them too rough? And what about Chinese wanton? And again: is it possible that there are no types in the Middle East?
Well, I'm peckish, guess what I'm going to dig out of my freezer?
Franita in the kitchen
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