Food and culture are intertwined in such a beautiful way it would be practically impossible to separate a culture from its food. I’ve been told to reject a country’s food is to reject their culture. I believe this to be true. Argentina has some of the best food I have ever tasted! I could easily make a series of posts on the different foods we have here in Argentina, and it would be a great series, but for this post I am just going to highlight one specific food here, it has become my favorite thing to eat. I am referring to the empanada, but not just any empanada (because not all empanadas here are created equal). It is a specific empanada, from a specific restaurant. The only complaint I have is that it is on the other side of Buenos Aires, and I rarely ever get the opportunity to satisfy my craving for this most delicious of Argentine cuisine. When I do have that opportunity, I eat an embarrassing amount of this specific delicious empanada. Even when I have filled myself pass to capacity, I debate on eating “just a little bit more”. Before I explain what type of empanada is, first I will explain what empanadas are.
What is an empanada? This is a loaded question, because empanadas are made and sold all over South America, and each country has their own version, and each county believe that their’s is the best. Empanadas are a “meat-filled” turnover. Some are fried, others are baked. They can be filled with a number of things, from beef, chicken, ham and cheese, corn and cheese, onions, lamb, and even bacon and plum. Some are made from a corn dough while others are made from a flour dough. All of these variables can make a really good, or a not-so-good empanada. This meat turnover is the stuff of dreams!
Argentine empanadas: Argentine empanadas are different (and dare I say “better”)! Each province (our version of states) has their own spin on empanadas. The most well known are “Salteñas” (from the “Salta” province), but others are very good as well.
My favorite empanada: My favorite empanada is from a place called “Pekin” in Buenos Aires, and it is an empanada de cordero cortada a cuchillo. This may be my favorite thing to eat in the world! The empanada is baked and is filled with chunks of lamb and filled with spices. It is in the shape of a triangle and a portion of the filling is revealed (this is not typical, but it doesn’t even matter because it is so good). They are cheap too! Lamb empanadas are from the Patagonian provinces, but this little spot in Buenos Aires has them and does them better than anywhere else. These are the best of the best!
Some adjustments are harder than others. The food here is an adjustment, but not a hard one! Some people want Argentine steak, others want our delicious Italian food, others want to experience one of our cafes, or one of our many ice cream shops. While all of the above are delicious, I’ll choose the lamb empanada from Pekin every time!