Hot dog! Empanada lady fills us with delight

Hot dog! Empanada lady fills us with delight
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Brooklyn has a booming food culture, so how come you can only get a stale pretzel, a dirty water dog or a re-frozen Italian ice in Prospect Park?

Well, that was then. Thankfully, an Argentinean woman from Windsor Terrace has started selling incredible empanadas on weekends in the park — though for now, she’s a mystery woman because she doesn’t have a permit.

“The company I was working for closed down, and I was stressed out after a long time of not finding a job,” said the woman, who gave only the name Valeria. She studies psychology at Hunter College by day, but with little job prospects, she honed her her moon-shaped pies.

“One night, I made empanadas for my husband, and he loved them so much he suggested that I sell them in the park,” she said.

For about two weeks, Valeria has been peddling a spinach, garlic, and cheddar version as well as a corn, caramelized onion and mozzarella variety.

Argentine dream: Valeria (who declined to give her last name because what she’s doing may not be legal) sells her empanadas in Prospect Park on Sundays.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

She’s usually on the prowl Saturdays, and sometimes Sunday, heading the length of Prospect Park West and through the fields until she runs out of pies — usually by about 2:30 pm. Park-goers typically walk past, then do a double take, unable to resist the curiosity of the seed-coated, moon-shapes pastries she peddles. And rightfully so — the empanadas are excellent, with a thick crust, flavorful fillings and lacking that greasy, fast-food flavor common in even the best empanadas.

The secret is replacing the traditional lard in the dough with vegetable oil, she said.

“These are truly pretty typical empanadas from Argentina, but they have my own twist,” said Valeria.

Hurry and get them while they last — Valeria will only be out until the weather turns cold. Or the Park patrol officers bust the whole operation.

Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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