July 14, 2011

The day the empanadas vanished

We have a local chain of grocery stores here in Houston (I think there is one in Austin and perhaps even elsewhere in region) that are unusual in the width and variety of stock offered. The international section is unbelievably comprehensive for a local grocery store - especially for items from Mexico, South America but also from far east, Europe and mediterranean area. It's the only place in town where you can almost always find a can of delicious smoked sprats (these from Latvia).

When A. and I first moved to Houston we were delighted to find that the bakeries in most Fiesta stores made a wide range of American and Mexican baked goods, including a variety of quite delicious empanadas. Our favorite became the apple empanada from a particular store (now closed because of freeway expansion - our freeways in Houston will soon cover the entirety of East Texas!) but most other stores had comparable apple empanadas so wherever we were if we saw a Fiesta store and felt the need, we would stop by for our empanada fix. Delicious. For years they were delicious.

About three weeks ago, we were shopping at our local Fiesta - looking for sprats actually for a surprise birthday party - and realized we had not eaten breakfast. We finished our shopping, went by the bakery and grabbed us a couple of empanadas and started back to the house, empanadas in hand. For some reason - perhaps our recent, slightly more austere, diets - but for some reason the empanada, while delicious, seemed a little too sweet. I am certain that the empanada was the same as before. But I guess I wasn't. After one bite, I stared at the portable pie in my hand (one eye on the road as I was driving) and realized it was not the most nutritious item available to staunch our hunger. I turned to A., "Do you realize what is in this thing? Look at it - do you know what we are eating?"

"An apple empanada?" she asked, clearly aware that she did know what she was eating.

"No," I said. "Look at it."

Okay, I'm not eating it, she said and she didn't and I didn't and we don't and evidently we won't anymore. We still go to Fiesta - but now we buy their fresh apples in the produce section (organic when they have them) rather than the empanadas which clearly are not made from the apples they sell in their produce section. I'm sure that those apples come with complete filling in large tins from . . . where? I don't know, but we don't eat them anymore.

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