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Watch: Peach Empanadas Perfectly Blend Mexico and the American South

Chef Karla Ruiz marries her Mexican-honed cooking with Nashville ingredients

“It was amazing to see that we can cook Mexican food with local products,” says Karla Ruiz, the head caterer for the Woman’s Club of Nashville, about her visits to the local markets in Tennessee. Ruiz was born and raised in Mexico City, where she learned to cook thanks to her grandmother and mother. When Ruiz moved to the Nashville area in 2000, she found there were no longer limits to the Mexican-inspired dishes she could create.

One of her favorites are her peach empanadas, which came about when she found herself with leftover peaches and spare bits of her handmade empanada dough. Local peaches are cooked in sugar and cinnamon and wrapped in a dough that includes flour, lard, and beer. “It doesn’t matter if you’re from Mexico or the United States,” says Ruiz. “When you bring food to the table, that’s an act of love.”

Peach Empanadas is a film made for the Southern Foodways Alliance, an ongoing documentary project that “documents, studies, and explores the diverse food cultures of the changing American South.” To learn about the Ramirez story, watch the full video above.

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