Once upon a time, we decided to make empanadas.
And after months of discussing the concept, we finally, one evening, actually did.
^This photo looks a lot like the beginning.
But it’s actually the end of a rather long ‘first stage’ of preparation.
Preparation involving two people, for nearly two hours, cutting onions and cutting meat into appropriately tiny pieces for empanada filling.
With ‘appropriately tiny’ being the key… it turns out that I did not cut the onions correctly the first time around. So Enrique made me recut them.
Meanwhile, he struggled though a giant chunk of meat, trying with various of our extremely-blunt kitchen knives to saw it into submission.
By the time Pau, the second Chilean (and therefore the co-host of the evening), showed up, we were mostly done.
The two Chilean hosts had decided to divide the tasks for the evening. So when Pau arrived she left us to our meat pile, and immediately began making her dessert, a kind of four-milk cousin to a creme caramel.
The division of labour was probably necessary in the context of the tiny kitchen. But it had arisen over a disagreement about raisins:
Chile is long and narrow, there is room for many follies, such as raisins in empanadas.
E. D. G, 2018
Pau was firmly in the ‘pro raisin’ camp.
Enrique was against.
(For the record, my vote was firmly for keeping all fruit away from meat- apricot chicken is the most unholy of all creatures- but really, as an Australian, I didn’t have much say in the matter).
Family recipes were discussed, and I’m pretty sure the question of moral absolutes came into play.
In the end, the compromise was this. Enrique got empanadas, without raisins. Pau got dessert, and also ceviche, the latter being with mango.
If I’m honest, I kind of expected them both to bring a recipe, or even a general idea, and mess around until something, either spectacularly good or disastrously adventurous, came into being.
I overlooked the fact that my friends are scientists.
The week before, Pau tested, and troubleshooted, a gluten free dough for her own personal empanada. The morning of, we got a photo of a ‘test empanada’ that Enrique had tried at home.
But given how spectacularly the food all turned out, I’ve decided I’m not even mad about it.
Anyway, while Pau made caramel, Enrique made pastry. Soon after the dough was completely kneaded into submission, Matty and Fabio arrived to take up the task of rolling.
You’re going to have to bear with me from here on out- the kitchen is white light, the living room is golden. We needed all the space we could get.
Enrique showed Matty and Fabio what to aim for, and they got to creating, occasionally referring to their jefe (boss: I think they’ve been watching Narcos) for guidance.
Back in the kitchen, Enrique roasted onions and meat, while Pau cooked prawns and peeled avocados and mangos. Pau and Enrique both have the habit of spontaneously launching into song, so they stirred and chopped and chatted in Spanish and sang and tasted and added more salt and laughed and sang some more and generally filled the kitchen with happiness.
I sat behind them on a kitchen chair, and felt, at least for that moment, extremely calm, and content, and confident that everything was going to be ok.
Which meant everything.
Back in the living room, the men had made neat little stacks of dough discs. It was time for the filling to begin.
Lucio arrived in time to question where the raisins were, and to then display his empanada-folding prowess.
Soon, we had a new production line:
While waiting for the empanadas to bake, we launched ourselves into prawn, avocado and mango ceviche, which was perfect in every way.*
*(I could even understand the role of the mango!)
And then the empanadas were ready! ^pride face.
So we burnt our mouths, and pulled stupid faces trying to blow the meat to an edible temperature, and generally stuffed more empanadas into our mouths than any people should…
.. and somehow, at the end of it all, we even had a little room left over for dessert.
The food was great. The company was greater.
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