MEAT PIES FROM ENGLAND — VIA MEXICO

by Tom Hanchett

pastiesIt’s amazing how a food tradition can travel.

A couple of Sundays ago I stopped in at Cocina Latina on Albemarle Road in east Charlotte, thinking about maybe a breakfast burrito.  Fausta Salvitierra from Hidalgo, Mexico, and her sons have made the place a favorite spot for Mexican family cooking, especially “tortas” (baked sandwiches) and traditional lamb “barbacoa” (a relative of barbecue).

Behind the counter I thought I saw empanadas.  I love those dough pockets stuffed with meat, a specialty of Argentina.  How’d they get to a Mexican place?

“Oh those aren’t empanadas,” said Fausta, “They are pasties.”  Not from Argentina? “No,” insisted son Antonio.  “The Europeans brought them to Hidalgo. The miners who came to dig for silver at Real de Monte.”

Almost 200 years ago, the ancient mining district of Cornwall in England sent skilled immigrants to mines all over the world. They brought along their distinctive food, called “pasties.”  Dough is folded over a meat stew then baked, creating a filling lunch that stayed warm into the middle of a hard workday down in a cold, damp mine.

In Hidalgo, they changed a bit.  Instead of English-style beef stew, Mexicans made fillings of beans with chorizo sausage, chicken mole (say “MOLE-A,” the dark sauce popular in central Mexico), ground beef with hot peppers, or arroz (sweet rice custard).

So much history – English, Mexican, and now Carolinian – all  wrapped in a warm flakey crust!

Cocina Latina is open every day, but pasties are sold only on Sunday mornings.
Monday – Saturday 8 a.m. until 10 p.m
Sunday 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.

3709 North Sharon Amity Road
Charlotte, NC 28205
704-531-5757