"The belly rules the mind."-Spanish proverb
Ok, pop quiz. Name a cuisine that does not have it's own version of a dumpling or stuffed pastry. It's tough, right? There's the Chinese dumpling, jiaozi (of course), ravioli, samosas, gyozas, momos, empanadas, pierogies and at least thirty other kinds. Which makes you think.. are stuffed things in various forms, really the great unifier of humanity? No matter who or where you are, we globally seem to unanimously agree that if you take some filling, wrap it in dough, fry/steam/boil it, that it will likely be delicious.
One of my all time favorite bites is Latin cuisine's version of the stuffed pastry: the empanada. Usually when I have had an empanada in the past, the dough was usually wheat flour based. However on a recent trip to Costa Rica, I noticed their delicious versions were made with a sweet, corn dough. So, when I got back to Dallas, in order to get a similar empanada fix, I headed over to a local Latin cafe, Zaguan. Zaguan is a well-known, casual spot in Dallas for Latin pastries, meals and coffee. The cafe is best known for it's arepa, which if you are not familiar with the dish, is a corn flour dough "turnover" that is grilled and filled with cheese and/or meat. The empanadas are equally as scrumptious, especially the Venezuelan (and Columbian) varieties. You have the option to fill them with cheese, savory beef or chicken and the outside is a sweet, fried golden corn flour dough. For some variety, try their Argentinian version, where the dough is made of wheat flour. While empanadas are customarily eaten for breakfast, they work perfect as mid-afternoon snack or light lunch.
If you cannot make it to Zaguan's, here's a few empanada recipes to try at home.
In case you missed them, some past bites:
"The Jack" Cupcake at Trailer Cakes (Dallas, TX)
Chai Pie at Pondicheri (Houston, TX)
Thai pastries at Bhan Kanom Thai (Los Angeles, CA)
Bread Pudding Whoopie Pies at Society Bakery (Dallas, TX)
image source: SD
(Bamboo utensils from Sur La Table; patterned napkin from World Market)