Empanada Life

The short version: I love empanadas. Really. It’s a primal thing—instinctive, carnal. Lust from the bones. Tattoo on the heart. Maybe my soul is shaped like an empanada. I have imprinted on them. Ball is life? Empanada is life.

The long version: along with Barcelona’s Parc Güell hilltop, the chess club near Plaça de Catalunya, work in El Poblenou, and ping pong in the Parc de la Ciutadella, I frequented an Argentinian empanada chain called La Fábrica.

Glass front like an Apple Store, display cases like an ice cream shop. A veritable 31 flavors of chicken, chorizo, steak, mushroom, cheese, tuna, vegan, gluten free, you name it. Baby blue walls, wood counters and chairs, stainless steel appliances. Choose 1, 2, or 3 of those shiny, delightful pouches. Mix and match, make it a meal with a cold drink from a can. Watch the short, sweet, sweltering parade process down conveyor-belt lane to the takeaway bags. Walk away with your mouth around a thin, firm crust yielding to blissful warm tender goodness.

Stateside, I became obsessed. Nothing compares. It blows the Chipotle burrito experience out of the water. Learned the recipe, spoke with a couple restaurant founders, found an available domain. “Life should be simple and delicious as eating an empanada.” Jobs and a community for those in need, healthy branding, automation potential!

A colleague asked if it’s empanada or empañada, and Google taught us about hyperforeignism. My evangelism ground to a halt. I’d never heard the word before. Me, sesquipedalian me! And what joy, a new word! But perhaps these things don’t matter very much. It’s about the product, the taste. Right?

Kneading dough for hours is a great way to ponder the paradoxical challenges of bringing empanadas to the people. Chimichurri or Sriracha mayo, it turns out everyone wants a distinctive blend of picante and suave in their life sauce. Good things in small packages can stay that way. Personal joy need not be shared at scale.

What do you want others to consume?

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