On The Go (Grab and Go, that is) Greatness!
Every country and culture has their own version of a meal wrap. No, I’m not talking about a taco or sandwich or burger or gyro, which are basically a wrap of one sort or another, but of a fully self-enclosed meal.
Of the titled mentioned, most are meat based however are not solely restricted to meat. For this blog though I’ll stick with the meat variety.
My first visit to Cornwall opened my eyes (and palate) the Cornish Meat Pasty. What an amazing combination of yumminess; flakey crust, savory moist filling, meat, potato, gravy, just wonderful. After raving for a few days about my unsloppy one-handed meal I realized this was not the first time I had had something so great or so easy to eat! I then remembered that in New York and the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, etc., everyone has some sort of one-handed loveliness. Heck, my wife and I headed back to NYC and thought of opening a restaurant that ONLY sold pasties, from around the world! The concept for a place like NYC was sound however the funding wasn’t… moving right along.
I had realized that as I was growing up (ok, aging, as I am not as yet a grown-up) I had sampled some great hand-held, stuffed meals, and then throughout my travels in the Americas. Here’s a simple/short description of some of my memories:
Papas Rellenas – In NYC, back in the sixties, you would always find a Puerto Rican “Freiduria” (fry place, old country/old world fast food) which always had empanadas, morcilla (blood sausage) fried plantains (green and ripe), etc. But one thing I truly, and mostly enjoyed was the stuffed potato ball – mashed potato formed into a large ball and stuffed with savory (Latin style) meat.
Pastelitos– As a child (9 years old) raised in the USA and visiting the Caribbean for the first time was something of a clash with everything food!
What did you mean ‘No Hotdogs,” “No Hamburgers,” “No Spaghetti O’s,” what was wrong with those people? Let’s just say everything – to me – tasted like Yuck! Except “El Pastelito!” A pasty of sorts, fried flaky dough, crusty, stuffed with incredibly seasoned meat! No fuss no hassles, medium in size and delicious. Believe me my 4 weeks vacation accounted for 20% fried chicken, 20% fried beef jerky and 60% Pastelitos. (Note: Pastelitos are also known as Empanadas it just depends on the Latin culture and country, but mostly are similar – in NYC, Miami, Boston, and all of CA, they are called Empanadas, but good luck finding a good one.)
Kipe (in the Caribbean) or Kibe(in the Middle East) – Think of it like a formed mini (very mini) American Football made from Bulgur and schtuffed with ground lamb (seasoned with fresh mint, cilantro, toasted pine nuts, a few raisins, cumin, onion, and a few other spices) and then fried. Crunchy, savory,
succulent, aromatic, earthly flavors and fulfilling! Take a bite from the top and add some chili sauce and you got yourself a party!
Empanda– Not very dissimilar from the Pastelito except that South America
makes them slightly to very different in than the Caribbean. They can range in filling and the masa (the carrier vessel – flour based), but Venezuela, Columbia, Brazil and Panama, had the best I’ve had down over there.
Tamale – Probably the heartiest of all of the above because of heavy corn masa, it is my least favorite but never to be discounted nor overlooked. Drier in texture than the rest, the Tamale can always benefits from so nice red sauce (whatever your pleasure however chili is best). I have however seen most folks eat these on a plate, with a fork, and a knife.
By no means is this the end of it, but for now it’ll have to do – I just got hungry and have decided on making Pastelitos – because I have all the ingredients and is the quickest to make!
So, when you see a One-Handed Wonder Meal, try it and let the rest of the world know of your exploits.
There are many more, from India (Samosas), China (Roat Pork Steamed Buns), etc., etc. These are just a few I wanted to cover. Chiao, baby.
Coming soon – Pasteles En Oja De Platano.
Potentially Related articles
- NJ Dining: Empanada Mania (offthebroiler.wordpress.com)
- 15 Must Try Street Foods in Latin America (bootsnall.com)