Hi. My name is Jimmy and I am addicted to Empanadas. It’s been 10 hours since my last empanada and I’m now getting the cold sweats. I’ve been smashing them like there’s no tomorrow since arriving in Medellin and I can devour them in the morning, afternoon or late evenings. What will I do when I leave Colombia? Will There be empanadas in Ecuador?
My first proper encounter with them was on the island of Utila off the coast of Honduras. Those ones were made from a fluffy, buttery pastry filled with rice and your choice of chicken and beef and deep fried. More often than not they were soggy from sitting out in the plastic cabinet for hours on end. Then there’s the baked empanadas. A bread like pastry with the same beef or chicken filling for those who want something healthier.
So on paper, nothing special really. I thought most empanadas were all the same. That’s until I arrived to Medellin. The town is dotted with Empanada shops or normal shop fronts with clear plastic boxes filled with empanadas, luring passing pedestrians away from the sidewalk and into their shops. Anytime of the day you’ll see people happily devouring these tasty morsels. More so at around late afternoon when people are on their way home from work.
Here in Medellin, most of them are made from a golden casing made from corn and filled with a meat and potato combination. A perfect combination of flavour and filling. Some have a mild curry flavour to them and others more meaty in flavour. For the past four weeks I’ve been getting my Empanada fix at El Machetico in El Poblado. These guys have been around for over 25 years now have stores all over the city. The one I’ve been going to only sell the beef empanadas, meaning that they are continuously pumping out these golden packets of goodness at a rate of knots. This guarantees that they will be at the peak of their freshness 24/7, unlike some places that have the same ones on display all day.
These particular crescent shaped delights have the perfect balance of beef, potato, spring onion and some form of sorcery because they are daaaaayym tasty.
Every All the time I’m there, they are piping hot fresh, the crispy and lighter from the lack of greasiness, which is what sets them apart from the competition.
The way they should be eaten is with a sprinkle of of lime (not offered at most places), salsa picante and washed down with a bottle of coke or other soft drink. These three elements ensure that you get the perfect harmonisation of flavours. Trust me on this .
Step 1 – Sprinkle the lime over the empanada. I prefer massaging the the cut side of lime across the flat side of the empanada as well.
Step 2 – There will always be a tub of fresh salsa picante on offer at the counter. Take one bit from the empanada and then add a teaspoon of salsa on the bitten corner so that it penetrates into the interior covering both casing and filling.
Step three – Take another bite and then a sip of soft drink
Step four – Repeat step 1
You don’t see many people eating on the go last some fast foods. The locals prefer to stand in front of the shop to devour their order. It’s not a place of socialising. Eating the empanada is serious business and you’ll see the customers, whether locals, taxi drivers, rich or poor repeating the above steps. It is not common to see a hoard of them jostling for poll position around the salsa picante. For 60c, they are the perfect snack that won’t break the bank.
If you want a taste of Medellin culture then the Empanadas are a must try if you are in town.
So my friends, what are your favourite type of snacks either locally or abroad?