Variety of Empanadas!
Variety of Empanadas!

Family is a constant in my life even when other things in the world are uncertain and scary. During these trying times, cooking meals with my family always comforts me and makes me feel closer to my culture. My favorite dish which is always on the table during the holidays is empanadas. Inside of the warm, oily, and crisp outer layer, there were many vibrant flavors. Unlabeled, it was always a mystery what type I would bite into.

My dad's mom, Ma, came to America from Puerto Rico in 1936 when she was 19 for a nursing degree. She then had 6 boys in Washington Heights and moved to Long Island. She brought the recipe from PR and made empanadas during the holidays and passed along the awesome recipe.

Empanadas are a staple in my family and no holiday would be complete without them. Ma would always recruit family members into the kitchen to help her make them. Now, I make the empanadas with my older cousins, and even on my own.

I have been able to continue this family tradition by going to my local bodega every week with my dad to get empanadas, calling it Empanada Thursday! On a daily basis, there aren’t many influences of my culture and I don’t often feel “Latina enough”. Yet when eating or making empanadas I embrace my cultural identity and am proud of where I came from. The empanadas bring everyone together, reminding us that the dish is a representation of hard work, family, and culture and show me how grateful I am for my family, especially during difficult times.

Place(s): puerto rico
Year: 1936

– Theresa Beth Alarcon

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant