I am a bit embarrassed to admit this, but my favorite Colombian foods are all fritos – little fried delicacies. I wish I could send you all a box filled with them for you to try yourself, but since I cannot, I will just be sharing them with you on my blog for the next few Fridays (because alliteration is the best).
Without further ado, I introduce you to the empanada. It might be that you only know this word from Taco Bell, where they sell what is basically the McDonald’s apple pie in an empanada half-moon shape. This is certainly what I was expecting when I studied abroad in Spain and ordered an empanada, took a huge bite, and was beyond dismayed to get a mouth full of fish flavoring. When I came to Colombia, that is what I was expecting. And while in my coastal town people eat lots and lots of fish and I am an outcast for being a hater, I am pleased to say that they do not mar their fried foods with creatures from the mar (SORRY that was too delicious to pass up; mar is sea in Spanish).
Empanadas come in 2 types, and within those 2 types, there are various options. My preferred empanada is made with a wheat flour dough. It fries up like a pastry, soft and flaky and mmmm I wish I was eating one right now. The other type is made with a corn flour dough. This one is a little bit crispier, with a larger dough to filling ratio. Both types are filled with a blend of meat, onion, pepper, and maybe some cilantro or none-spicy spice. You get to choose between beef and chicken. In the corn dough only you also get the option of cheese as the filling in place of the meat. Meat is a bit more expensive, but in any case these never cost over $1.000 Colombian pesos per item.
These little suckers are greasy, so are always served with a napkin (which I stupidly removed with the corn one, as seen in my pictures). If you eat them at the little cart where you purchase them, you can spoon some homemade “hot” salsa into your pocket to give it a bit more flavor – and if you do it as liberally as I do, you’ll spark some conversation about how you can eat such spicy foods.