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from: Western Africa | cooking method: deep frying


Pastels (Pastels aux Poisson, Beignets de Poisson, or Fish pies) are fish turnovers, i.e., crusts of pastry with fish stuffing. Pastels are usually fried, but can also be baked. They are usually served with a spicy tomato sauce. The West African Pastel is similar to the empanada of the Hispanic world, and the samosa of India, even the Chinese wonton, Italian ravioli, and Polish pierogi (though the later are likely to be cooked in boiling water instead of hot oil).

fishing in africa

You may wonder how this dish, a popular snack or appetizer in Western Africa, got its name (and if it has anything to do with artist's colors). Evidently, pastels are a Western African version of the famous Pigeon Pie of Morocco, which is more properly known as Bastilla (Bestilla, B'stila, Bstila). The Moroccan Bastilla is made with fowl, while in Western Africa fish is usually used. Similar and not-so-similar dishes with similar names (Pasteles, etc.) are found in Latin America, though if they were brought there via Africa or the Iberian pennesula (where Pasteles are also found) cannot be determined. And though it may seem that Pastels do not have much in common with artist's colors, linguists believe that the Moroccan Bastilla, the West African Pastel, and the artist's crayons all take their name from the same Latin root meaning "paste", from which we get "pasta"

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