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A Brief History of Empanadas

These pastries, filled with seafood, meat, cheese, vegetables or fruit are wildly popular throughout Latin and South America. Thought to have originated in Spain, where the Empanada Festival is part of Galician culture, the name comes from empanar, or to coat with bread. Variations of this form of portable meals are found in Cornish pasties, Italian calzone, or turnovers.

Most cultures have some sort of traditional "pocket" or meat pie food. It's quite simple -- they're very portable, easy to make and, of course, they don't have to be meaty.

Empanadas are the traditional Latin version of the "hot pocket" (an American version). When I was growing up, my mom who is from Spain, and was living in South America, used to make a version with meat, raisins and olives. There were also sweet ones filled with guava and cream cheese, apple, pumpkin among other flavors.

Empanadas can be also great as part of a “tapas” meal. Served as snacks/appetizers with a dipping sauce, the empanadas can be shared by everyone.

They can be plate sized, filled with a meat and vegetable mix for a main dish, or smaller, filled with fruit for dessert.