Empanadas and Cornish Pasties

Cornish Pasties
Clive Streeter / Getty Images

We recently visited a California gold rush town, where we feasted on Cornish pasties of all things. During the 1800's, miners from Cornwall came to provide their mining expertise, and with them came one of their favorite snacks, the delicious Cornish pasty. Cornish pasties have remained a popular treat in several of these California towns after all these years.

What struck me was how incredibly similar Cornish pasties are to empanadas.

  They have the same half moon shape, and a very similar crimped braid along the seal.  This is a picture of the Cornish pasty that I had for lunch - it could easily be mistaken for an empanada, no? The fillings are different of course, especially the seasoning.  Cornish pasties have hearty meat, onion and potato fillings, just like empanadas often do, but the seasoning tastes of pepper and herbs, more like chicken pot pie.  The pastry of a cornish pasty is much flakier than an empanada, because the fat (lard and butter) is only slightly blended in with the flour - like pie crust.  And I doubt there are any empanadas out there with turnips in the filling, nor are there cornish pasties with raisins, olives, and hard boiled eggs.

Still, the similarities are quite striking. Anyone know of any theories about a connection between the two? Did South American miners like to eat empanadas?  Empanadas came to South American via Spain and Portugal - so is Europe the common thread?

Please feel free to post a comment if you have a thought!

Recipes and Information About Cornish Pasties
Empanada Recipes