In the daily hustle and bustle of this concrete jungle known as Bogota, there is nothing I love more than a fresh empanada on the street. Although empanadas are traditionally eaten during the Christmas season along with natilla and buñuelos, they are an absolutely must eat any time of the year and one of the favourite street foods that you can find. Walk down any main street during peak hours and you will see street carts with cases full of hot fresh empanadas of all shapes and sizes. They are a staple for those of us who don’t have the luxury of having a sit down breakfast every morning and therefore rely on something quick and filling.
Just what is an empanada? Basically it’s a pastry base that’s filled with some sort of combination of meat and rice/potato and then fried or baked. Just like pizza, there is A LOT of variety when it comes to empanadas. Baked or fried, regular flour or cornmeal, beef or chicken, rice or potato, egg or no egg. Hell, even vegetarians don’t have to suffer as many places now have a veggie option too. There are even empanada joints that offer modern takes on the empanada like Hawaiian (ham and pineapple), Ranchero (with sausage) or plain cheese. Part of the fun is trying out the thousands of places available to find your favourite one(s). I personally like a combination of minced meat, rice and egg but plain chicken or plain beef are also great. In all honesty and again like pizza, even if an empanada is bad, it’s still pretty good. Fresh empanadas topped off with some Ají (Colombian hot sauce) or guacamole are one of my favourite savoury snacks. The most important thing when it comes to munching on empanadas is that it has to be fresh and hot, otherwise you’re most likely going to be served a microwave re-heated product which is about as fun as eating stale bread.