The empanada is a thin crusted, flat pie from Spain. Though traditionally they were made with a variety of fillings such a sardines, veal or even eels, the most popular filling today is the tuna and tomato version from Galicia, the empanada Gallega. Cut into rough squares and eaten cold these are the perfect picnic food.
On one occasion, I went to one of the many ancestral summer fiestas up in Norther Spain, in this case at Monte de Santa Tecla, where the only way to the fiesta was via a narrow, winding path up the side of the mountain during the hottest part of the day. To a background of mass drumming, pilgrims and revellers drenched each other in inky wine and tore each others clothes in a bloodless, but deeply colourful mock battle. Inevitably, attention turned to food and empanadas the size of cartwheels and other treats appeared as if from nowhere and everybody gorged themselves. Come evening, sporting tattered, wine-stained t-shirts and altogether worse for wear, the descending hordes were rewarded with a cool and cleansing splash at the nearby beach.
Whenever the topic of empanada came up in conversation, my flatmate in Madrid would always chip in with “What a lot of fuss over a pasty!” Needless to say we disagreed on that point.