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South America: Empanadas

July 15, 2011

in the window of a Buenos Aires pizzeria

JUNE/JULY 2010 — My last moments as a member of the California Youth Symphony (visit them at was the 2-week tour to Uruguay and Argentina. Though it was called the “South America Tour,” I should make it a habit not to do so, because those 2 countries are in no way representative of the entire continent. Uruguay and Argentina are probably the wealthiest countries in the continent and have a culture (and demographic) that resembles Europe quite a bit, which made me feel at home.

"Pollo" (Chicken)

"Verdura" (Vegetable)

My absolute favorite culinary discovery from the trip, however, was empanadas. Just about every culture has their form of baked pastry with filling. My people got their dumplings. India has samosas. England has pasties, and Italy has their calzones. They all taste quite different though, I think. They each have a distinctive dough, and the fillings, of course are seasoned differently.


Empanadas are pretty prevalent in the Caribbean and all over South America.
While I think guava & cream cheese empanadas are something distinctively Caribbean, the most traditional filling is minced beef, seasoned heavily with paprika, alongside onions, and a few bits of hard-boiled egg and olives. Other fillings I enjoyed were chicken (“pollo“) and a mixture of vegetables (“verdura“).

Empanadas can also vary in their preparation. The first two here that you can see (we ordered these at the pizzeria in Buenos Aires) are

baked. My favorite empanadas, however, were filled with the beef mixture, and deep-fried. Yes.


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