Meet The Empanada Queen

V Empanadas
Bryn Mawr’s Veronica Fitzgerald Opens V Empanadas in Wayne Farmers Market

by Melissa Jacobs

Ask Veronica Fitzgerald what her empanadas are filled with and she gives a simple answer. “Love,” says Fitzgerald, who opened V Empanadas in the Lancaster County Farmers Market on Feb. 26. “There’s love in every bite.”

The Main Line apparently loves Fitzgerald’s empanadas. For her opening  day, Fitzgerald made 500 empanadas – and sold out of them in 1 ½ hours. “In my planning, I thought selling 500 a week was a good goal,” she says. “When we sold out, I was stunned, but grateful and incredibly happy.”

Fitzgerald’s beef, chicken, pork, cheese and vegetable empanadas highlight a menu that also offers black beans, rice, sweet plantains, rice pudding and three kinds of sauce. The menu is available a la carte and for catering.

V Empanadas

The food reflects Fitzgerald’s Ecuadorian heritage. Born in Quito, Ecuador, Fitzgerald moved to the US when she was 14. Her parents – an import/export executive father and enterprising stay-at-home mother – wanted better opportunities for Fitzgerald and her brother. “We lived in an affluent area, but if the teachers wanted higher pay, they went on strike and there was no school,” she remembers.

Still, Fitzgerald loved Ecuador. “I was a bit of a rebellious child and I didn’t want to move to the US,” Fitzgerald says. “My mom said I could stay in Ecuador if aunts or uncles would take me in. No one would. That’s how rebellious I was.”

Fitzgerald’s love of Ecuador is baked into her cooking. There are four main areas of Ecuador, Fitzgerald explains, and they have different culinary traditions. Empanadas de morocho are made of white corn while the beach area specializes in empanadas made of green plantains. Another variety – empanadas de viento – are airy and light. “And as soon as they come out of the fryer, we cover them in sugar,” Fitzgerald says. “That is where my heart is. I love those.”

V Empanadas, housemade sauces and fried plantains

Fitzgerald’s new farmers’ market business is an outgrowth of the catering business that she started years ago while raising her two kids and teaching yoga at PurEnergy in Paoli. Now that her kids are older, Fitzgerald has time to focus on V Empanadas. “You wouldn’t think that yoga and empanadas are connected, but they are,” Fitzgerald says. “They both come from my soul and sharing them brings me great joy.”

V Empanadas, Lancaster County Farmers Market, 389 Lancaster Ave., Wayne. Hours: Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, 6 am – 4 pm.

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