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There is one empanada for every Argentinian

Almost all cultures have their version of what we know as “empanada”. But ours are unique and unrepeatable. What is its origin?


Almost all cultures have their version of what Argentines know as “empanada”: the Indians call it “chapati” (not exactly the same, but very similar), the Arabs “fatay”, the Mexicans “taco” , and, if we think about it a bit, the Italian “calzone” is a species of of giant empanada. In fact, it is so widespread because its composition is simple and perfect: a filling (which changes completely according to the culture) wrapped in a thin baked dough ( sautéñostyle) or fried in oil (style Tucuman). But what is the origin of the empanada as we know it?

First of all, never it is worth clarifying that there are as many recipes as people and that the flavors evolve hand in hand with the trends of gastronomy: from the first, the classic meat, ham and cheese or roquefort, we go on to chicken. vegetables, choclo, humita, bacon and plum, calabresa, and I've even seen Gourmet versions with palm trees, caprese, fish and seafood. But ours have a rather particular history.

The origin of the pie

For the time being, with the name is not much doubt: “empanada” comes from “empanar”, which is “poke in a loaf.” While this is not a bread (otherwise we would be talking from a sandwich and not from a pie), the name applies quite well.

It seems that the Spaniards (i.e., our ancestors) knew them from the hands of the Arabs ( approximately 12th century). But there are also traces of cooks from ancient Greece who did something similar (what they valued most was that it was a transportable and cookable food “in campaign”, something very useful if you are at war), but it is the Persians (what we call Iran today) who first show a habit of eating this dish, several centuries BC.

Between us remain outstanding disputes that form real “cracks”: the patty, baked or fried? And if we choose meat: minced or cut by knife? With dad or without dad? Raisins, yes or no? Either way, we all have a favorite: thanks to their almost total versatility, pies are suitable for any consumer. Carnivores have one and vegetarians have one. With spicy and without spicy. Pump or light. Cold or hot. There's for everyone. That's why, when it comes to eating something rich and simple, we don't doubt it: we think of empanadas, an essential meal for most Argentines .

Publication Date: 03/02/2020

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