Empanadas are something that I never really ate before moving here; now they are one of my favorite snacks/meals on the go, and luckily the Julia's in Adams Morgan is only a few blocks from our apartment building.
Yesterday the heat index was supposed to hit 100 (I never checked to see if it actually made it) and around 4:30 in the afternoon it probably wasn't much cooler. Since I was hungry I stopped at Julia's, hoping for a spinach empanada. (I usually get the saltenas or chilean beef but lately have been craving veggie stuff when I'm out). To my disappointment, the spinach tray was empty, but then just as I was in the midst of ordering one of the veggie daily specials I noticed the woman behind the counter refilling the spinach tray with plump freshly-baked ones, so I changed my order. At $3 they're not cheap by every regional standard but they're reasonable for D.C. Even eaten in the heat out in front of SunTrust bank it was delicious--I felt very lucky to have arrived in such a timely manner. The filling- spinach mixed with ricotta and muenster, lemon juice and pinenuts (according to the menu, although I did not detect any pinenuts in my filling) was tangy and well-mixed, the pastry just the right mix of crustiness and doughiness, and I ate it carefully so as to not waste any of the juices gushing out. It was surprisingly satisfying in the heat.
Whether as empanadas, jiaozi, pasties, tamales, zongzi, chimichangas, eggrolls, spring rolls, or whatever a culture chooses to concoct, handheld packet foods rarely disappoint.