Latin Americans know that their cuisine is the most delicious in the world, but Americans are just beginning to learn how amazing this food really is. On Friday, April 8, the entire nation will celebrate the glory of empanadas on a very special unofficial holiday.
According to Lancaster Online, Friday is National Empanada Day, and restaurants in Pennsylvania have already started to prepare for the long lines that come with such a tasty holiday.
In Lancaster, PA, the Salgado family’s Coffee Shop Colombian Bakery is one of the only places in town where locals can enjoy some authentic Colombian cuisine. Maria Salgado, owner of the restaurant, said that she learned how to make the perfect empanada from her father, who obtained his cooking skills while growing up in Colombia.
The Salgados’ empanadas are made with cornmeal dough, but the fillings are completely dependent on how the family feels that day. This delicious dough can be stuffed with ground beef, chicken, potatoes, peppers, and just about anything else they have in the kitchen.
Flora Gonzalez, co-owner of Flora’s Restaurant in Lancaster, PA, also likes to spice things up with different fillings. From breakfast empanadas to dessert options, Flora’s always has something for everybody.
“We make all types of empanadas. Sometimes we have goat ones, sometimes we have lamb or seafood. Beef and cheese is a classic filling. And we make Nutella ones with peanut butter and sweet plantains,” said Gonzalez.
While empanadas might get most of the attention on Friday, Venezuelans will likely use this holiday as an excuse to pig out on arepas. In Russia, red tulips are often used to declare romantic love. In Venezuela, cooking an arepa for someone is just as good as saying, “I love you.”
As The Star reported, arepas have become increasingly popular in Canada over the past several years, and it’s only a matter of time before they replace empanadas as America’s favorite Latin American cuisine.
In Venezuela, these personal-size corn bread delights are the American equivalent of hamburgers or pizza. Luis Vega, a Toronto resident who grew up in Veneuzela, fondly remembers his time enjoying homemade arepas as a child.
“You have them everywhere,” said Vega. “You can’t live without them.”
Similar to empanadas, arepas can be topped or filled with anything under the sun. El Arepazo, a wildly popular Venezuelan eatery in Toronto, stuffs their arepas with steak, Latin American cheese, and even beer-marinated pulled pork.
Arepas may not have their own holiday yet, but it may not be long before Canadians and Americans go crazy for this Venezuelan dish.