A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 22, 2006
Sopaipilla (Sopapilla)

The sopaipilla (or “sopapilla") was declared in 2003 (with the law expiring in 2005) the official state pastry of Texas, along with the strudel. Yes, there are two official state pastries!

The sopaipilla is popular in New Mexico and is often served with honey, or as a side dish to a meal.


Texas Legislature
H.C.R. No. 92
HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION

WHEREAS, The State of Texas has customarily recognized a variety of official state symbols as tangible representations of the state’s historical and cultural heritage; and

WHEREAS, Among such icons are the rodeo, the state sport; the guitar, the state musical instrument; and chili, the state dish; and

WHEREAS, In keeping with this custom, the designation of the sopaipilla and strudel as the official State Pastries of Texas shall provide suitable recognition for these historic symbols of
the state’s cultural heritage, for the sopaipilla and strudel are some of the earliest pastries known to have been made in Texas; and

WHEREAS, The primary ingredient of the sopaipilla and strudel is wheat flour, the use of which in Texas can be traced as far back as 1682 in Ysleta, the oldest continuously occupied community in the state; located in present-day El Paso County, Ysleta is the site
of a mission established by Franciscan friars and Tigua Pueblo Indians; the Tigua planted, harvested, and ground wheat for use in meals that they prepared for the friars, and by the 1730s they were cultivating wheat for themselves; and

WHEREAS, Like the grain from which it is made, the wheat flour tortilla, too, can be traced to the El Paso area; it was produced there several hundred years ago by the Tigua, using lard from domesticated pigs, yet another item introduced in Texas by the Spaniards; the Tigua, who originally helped to raise pigs for the friars, had adopted the animals as a source for their own meals as early as the second quarter of the 18th century; and

WHEREAS, Generally made from a flour dough recipe, the sopaipilla was deep-fried in lard in earlier times and today is fried in healthier oils; it has been known by the Tigua of the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo as “Indian fry bread” for well over a hundred years and is enjoyed by them on a variety of occasions; and

WHEREAS, Widely known throughout the great State of Texas and across the nation, the sopaipilla and strudel are served in restaurants and cooked at home, both from family recipes and from store-bought mixes; the sopaipilla may be topped with honey, cinnamon, or powdered sugar and may even be stuffed with beans, meat, or ice cream; and

WHEREAS, The sopaipilla and strudel stand out among Texas pastries because of their historic origins and universal appeal; embraced today by Texans of every ethnic background, the sopaipilla and strudel constitute a much-savored part of Texans’ shared cultural identity; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED, That the 78th Legislature of the State of Texas hereby designate the sopaipilla and the strudel as the official State Pastries of Texas until January 31, 2005.

Wikipedia: Sopaipilla
A sopaipilla, also spelled sopapilla, is a kind of fried pastry or quick bread. The term is applied to either of two distinct breads, one typical of New Mexico in the United States, the other of areas in South America.

The word likely comes from American Spanish, a diminutive of the Spanish word sopaipa, which is used to indicate fried dough sweetened with honey. That word seems to have come from the earlier word “xopaipa”, from the Mozarabic “xupaipa”, which is a diminutive form of “úppa”, “súppa”, bread soaked in oil. It could also be from Old Spanish “sopa”, food soaked in liquid. However, the term “sopaipa” is almost never encountered in practice in New Mexico, as the diminutive has replaced it in standard usage.

New Mexican sopaipillas
New Mexican sopaipillas are made from a pressed dough, like a tortilla, made of flour, a chemical leavener (normally baking powder), salt, and a solid fat. This dough is deep fried until “golden brown and delicious” (like a doughnut), causing the dough to puff and crisp, and creating a large air pocket in its center, unlike tortillas of the same region, which remain flat following preparation. The resulting fried bread is similar to Native American frybread.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
sopaipilla, n.
[Amer. Sp., dim. of Sp. sopaipa a kind of sweet fritter.]
In South and Central America and neighbouring parts of the U.S., a small (usu. square) piece of wheat dough deep-fried and eaten with honey or sugar, or occasionally as a bread.
1934 E. FERGUSSON Mexican Cookbk. 90 Cut into small squares, they make Sopaipillas. Cut large and round.., they make Bunuelos. 1949 F. C. DE BACA GILBERT Good Life 76 As the sopaipillas are fried and drained and still hot, roll in the sugar and cinnamon mixture. 1958 E. E. ZELAYETA Elenya’s Secrets of Mexican Cooking 198 The sopaipillas will puff up like little pillows. Serve hot as a bread.

23 October 1935, Los Angeles Times, “Substantial South American Menus Suggested,” pg. 28:
SOPAIPILLAS
1 cup mashed boiled or baked Hubbard squash
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons or butter
Salt to taste

Mix the above ingredients. Knead and form thin pancakes. Cook in the following syrup after it reaches the soft ball stage:
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lemon rind grated
1 piece cinnamon

18 May 1952, Chicago Daily Tribune, “Life in Santa Fe Is Lazy and Ideal for Vacationing” by David Condon, pp. F1-F2:
Personally, we prefer such standbys as frijoles [beans], tamales, and enchiladas, with plenty of sopapillas, but anyone who likes a fancier dish will be obliged by the cocinero.

10 October 1954, Los Angeles Times, pg. C12:
Sopaipillas
2 cups sifted enriched flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening
1/2 cup water
METHOD: Resift flour with dry ingredients; work in shortening and water. Mix into a soft dough; roll out on a floured board and cut in diamonds. Deep fry at 400 deg., at first pushing the fritters under the fat two or three times to assure even puffing. Cook on both sides until nicely browned and prettily puffed. Makes about 20 Sopaipillas.

Posted by Barry Popik
Texas (Lone Star State Dictionary) • (0) Comments • Friday, December 22, 2006 • Permalink