Pope Francis Surprised With Argentinian Empanadas from Miami
Pope Francis waves to reporters at Fiumicino international airport as he boards his flight to Havan, Cuba, from Rome, Italy, 19 September 2015. Pope Francis departed Rome starting a nine-day trip to Cuba and the United States that is his longest international foray since he was elected leader of the Catholic Church two and a half years ago. Francis is the third pope to tour Communist-ruled Cuba after John Paul II in 1998 and Benedict XVI in 2012. He was scheduled to meet both former president Fidel Castro and his brother Raul, the current leader.

Pope Francis Surprised With Argentinian Empanadas from Miami

Defrosted with hair dryers

Pope Francis got an early treat on his flight to Cuba Saturday morning. María Antonieta Collins, senior special correspondent for Univision, surprised the pope with a box of Argentinian empanadas, a stuffed pastry made for him by immigrants in Miami. Francis looked thrilled and blessed her. He soon after shared the empanadas with all the journalists aboard the flight.


“It wasn’t easy to make the empanada surprise happen,” Collins tells TIME. “What can I give Pope Francis? Argentinian empanadas.”

Collins found a restaurant in Miami where immigrants made the treat for the pope.

It was quite the project to get the empanadas from Miami to Rome onto the papal plane and then into the pope’s hands. The empanadas at one point spent time in a freezer at the Vatican press office, Collins says.

She ended up trying to defrost them with hair dryers. She packed them in her carry-on, at times holding them in her arms, “like a baby,” she laughs.

“It was clearly worth it. Empanadas for el papa,” she said, her eyes filling with tears. “The holy father was so happy and I know he told his assistant, please warm these in the oven!”

He did just that and shared them with everyone on the plane. As this reporter can attest, they were delicious.

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