Recently, a couple was charged with making human empanadas at their Lovett-like food shop in Brazil. While the attached recipe somehow calls for ground turkey and avocado cream, I couldn’t help thinking about the fresh kidney and tongue puff pastries that mama used to make.
We’d all crouch around the woodstove on a cold fall day, and mama would be muttering curses as she mixed the filling together in the kitchen. She’s call us in to help fill the pastry dough with the stuffing, and we’d help her load the tray with puff pastries ready for the fire.
My favorite part of making the puff pastries was sitting in front of the fire, watching them cook. As the firelight permanently burned out my retinas, one sitting at a time, the whole dungeon would fill with the smell of meat fat and seared flesh. And if the fire ran low, sometimes mama would let me toss another mummy leg on to stoke it.
Mmm mmm. I’m salivating just thinking about them.
That’s the thing about family recipes. While many are handed down from generation to generation because of the quality of the recipe, others are cherished for the memories they evoke.
Now, I get my tongue from the local butcher and my kidneys from my favorite black market vendor. But as I’m cooking, I always remember the incoherent screams of mama’s victims as she got her cuts fresh – as fresh as you can get.