The Postscript by Carrie Classon
Finding New Irresistible Treat, Apple Empanadas
Usually, just as I am getting close to leaving Mexico, I find some absolutely irresistible treat and have to eat it every single day until I leave.
I arrive back in the U.S. a few pounds heavier, wondering how I ever got so carried away. I return to my more or less normal eating habits and more or less normal weight, only to return and discover some new treat across the border.
This week, it was apple empanadas.
I didn’t know what an empanada was. I thought it was a sort of meat sandwich and not something I’d get excited about. That was until Jorge, our benevolent landlord (possibly too benevolent), showed up at our doorstep with a small plate. On the plate were two large, crispy, perfectly browned triangles covered in cinnamon sugar and filled with apples.
“For you!” He explained, unnecessarily. “Empanadas!”
It was midafternoon and not exactly our coffee and pastry hour. (Full disclosure: My husband, Peter, and I didn’t have a coffee and pastry hour, although this soon changed.) We cut one of those apple empanadas in half and tried it. And that was pretty much it.
We ate the second empanada. Then, I went downstairs to find Jorge.
“Where do we get more of these?”
Jorge laughed and gave me directions, but no address. The next day, I went hunting.
“But only after 2 p.m.!” he warned me.
Jorge said it was near the flower shop. There was a bakery across the street, but I’d been in there, and there were no empanadas.
San Miguel is a historic town, so they don’t put up much permanent signage. They will hang a shingle out when they are open and take it down at night. Many times, I have walked right by a business with no way to recognize it after it was closed.
On my first day, I found no sign of empanadas. On the second day, I asked a couple of gringos nearby, and they knew nothing about them. On the third day, I went into the flower shop and asked in Spanish. The owner pointed to the bakery.
“No, not the bakery.” I told him it was empanadas, specifically, I was looking for.
The people in San Miguel are used to being asked stupid questions. They answer the same stupid questions over and over, and then gringos come up with new ones.
The owner of the flower shop stopped working on the roses at his table. He took me gently by the arm and guided me out the door. I wondered where we were going. He walked directly to the bakery that I had, by now, passed at least half a dozen times.
“Here are empanadas,” he told me. Still, I doubted.
I stepped inside. There they were.
Miraculously, a whole new selection of baked goods had appeared. Because a crispy apple pastry was something I would eat in the morning, I expected them to be there in the morning. But that would be foolish if you wanted to eat them warm and fresh from the oven in the afternoon, as they do in San Miguel.
I got the last two on the tray and brought them home to Peter.
“Now we’re in trouble!” I announced as we ate an empanada each.
But, before I went home, I stopped at the flower shop to thank the store owner. The vocabulary I have in Spanish to explain that I am stubborn and pigheaded is limited. And now I think I should do something about that—both the vocabulary and the stubbornness.
Till next time,
– Carrie Classon is a freelance writer and author and lives in New Mexico. Her columns appear each week.