National Empanada Day
annually on April 8th
Empanadas, which we celebrate today on National Empanada Day, are turnover pastries made of dough that is wrapped around a wide range of savory and sweet fillings. They can be baked or fried, served hot or cold, and be a main or side dish. Meats commonly stuffed in empanadas include chicken, beef or steak, pork loin, ham, fish, and shrimp. Other common fillings include garlic, onion, tomatoes, mushrooms, corn, chili peppers, potatoes, and cheese. Sometimes fruit is used, particularly when the empanada is served as a dessert. The wide range of fillings used tends to vary from country to country, making empanadas a versatile food.
Empanadas are thought to have originated in Galicia, in northwest Spain. In fact, their name stems from empanar, the Galician verb for "embreaded." They most likely were brought to the New World by Spaniards and were adapted to the tastes of countries there, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean. Today they are found in the United States as well. They are more often baked in South America and fried in the Caribbean, and the dough of South American empanadas is often slightly sweet. Depending on where they are made, both their ingredients and the names given to them vary. Other names for them are empanadillas, empadas, pastelitos, and pastelillos. Jamaica has Jamaican patties, Brazil has empadinhas, and Bolivia has salteñas, all of which are variations of the empanada.