Pearl B. MSJ '21
MSJ’s First Empanada Workshop
If there’s one thing MSJ’s spanish teacher, Señora Ana Arguas, knows how to cook, it’s empanadas. She has been making and selling them for years. Most recently, with her contribution to “Everybody Eats,” a local food relief program for those affected by Covid-19, she has donated an astonishing 8,000 empanadas since September. And on Friday, December 11th, she effectively combined two of her greatest passions, teaching and cooking, into MSJ’s first Empanada Workshop.
Early on that bright Friday morning, members of the National Spanish Honors Society gathered in the cafeteria, listening attentively to Senora Ana’s instructions. Although it was a fairly straightforward recipe, there were four critical steps to master - rolling and shaping the dough, filling it with Senora’s signature mixture, then folding it into the classic empanada shape before, finally, baking it. After a short yet comprehensive demonstration, students were ready to tie their aprons and get to work.
There were two delicious savory recipes to choose from. The first was a vegetarian option of spinach and cheese, while the second mixture had chicken accompanying the cheese. Señora proudly noted her usage of organic ingredients and cage free chicken, two integral necessities in her cooking. Students made at least one of each, some even pumping out five or more empanadas like a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen. Despite a few moments of stress or confusion (that all chefs and bakers inevitably experience), you could see each student was actively learning and enjoying the experience.
About forty-five minutes later, it was time to bake their creations. Senora brought out the sheet pan rack and stacked them away to be completed, while the rest of the students eagerly waited to try them. Shortly after, the moment had come! It was finally time to enjoy the empanadas, and after receiving a sample myself (for journalistic purposes), I can personally verify that they were amazing.
Thanks to Señora Ana and her enthusiastic participants, the Empanada Workshop was a huge success! It engaged students with hands-on learning of an authentically Hispanic dish, allowing them to further understand the culture. With this awesome learning experience also came the fun and laughter of learning something new, along with an elevated appreciation of culinary diversity.