My mom hosted the gnarliest girls night at home when I was a kid. To a five-year-old me, they were wild and insane. But now, in hindsight it was probably the only relaxation time she had with our family and her friends. It consisted in all of my aunts and their friends coming to the apartment and playing bingo. Also, some light gambling. I remember playing under the table while they gossiped about things I can’t remember or were beyond me. It was awesome. I remember feeling like a grown up (at 5!) just by being surrounded by the amazing women in my life. Also, my grandma was the fucking boss.
Often when they couldn’t play at home, they’d go to an underground bingo at the 181st subway station in Manhattan. My mom would take me with her when she couldn’t get one of my cousins or brothers to look after me. She doesn’t believe in baby sitters. So I would go there and hang out. But sitting down on a table wasn’t my thing. I would fidget and it was just terrible. I remember being restless and annoying so she’d leave me at the cafeteria with my brother’s godmother, Miriam. It’s the only place where I’d sit still. There, Miriam taught me how to make pastelitos. Pastelitos are pastry in the shape of small pockets. They’re also known as empanadas. Often filled with savory fillings such as chicken, beef, cheese, or sweet fillings like guayaba. I perfectly remember closing the little pockets with a plastic fork so vividly. My biggest responsibility in life at that moment: don’t let the filling spill. This memory came rushing to me as I was making these little hand pies on a Saturday afternoon, so I just had to share. Anyway, it’s fall! Time to bake pies nonstop, apple pie to be specific!