empanadasqueso Although I have yet to find any official document naming Chile's national dish, my own intuition and a New York Times Dining & Wine article tell me that empanadas are it. Empanadas are very popular all around the world, but in no other country are they such a staple of a people and culture. Empanadas are dough pastries or patties filled with various different kinds of fillings or stuffings. From shrimp, to minced beef, to crab meat, to chicken and pork. Chileans love empanadas. The ones pictured here are cheese empanadas that are deep fried. The one half-eaten by my empanadaconaji sister has a spicy salsa on it made from cilantro, tomatoes, onions and lime. It's more of an appetizer than an actual meal, but is unbelievably tasty nonetheless.

The most common kind of empanada is of pino, which is a stuffing made with minced beef, black olives, onions, raisins and a hardboiled egg. This stuffing is believed to have originated with the Mapuche, the indigenous peoples of Chile. It wasn't until Europeans arrived that it was actually used as a filling for the dough pastries. This makes empanadas de pino a prime example of the blending of native and European cultures.