Free From Fridays – Maize Blaze, Gluten-Free Colombian Empanadas!
In our new Free-From Fridays series features we will be revealing the faces behind London’s gluten-free revolution, telling you their stories and where to find them! We begin with Ruth Christianson and her Colombian street food vendor, Maize Blaze.
We first experienced the excellent gluten-free Maize Blaze last month during Camden Lock’s first Gluten-Free festival. With an entirely gluten-free menu, Maize Blaze specialises in empanadas – little Colombian bundles of joy that resemble Jamaican patties with a South American zest.
Ruth, whose mother’s side of the family is Colombian, spent the first eight years of her life in Bogota. Upon returning from one of her many visits back there she had a craving for empanadas that she found difficult to satisfy, with Colombian food a rarity in the UK. Rather than move back to Bogota, Ruth decided to bring a taste of Colombia to Camden Lock Market and set up Maize Blaze in March. Her aim is to bring the “mouth watering and comfort feeling” of Colombian food to the UK and popularize the food outside of the Colombian community.
Beef & Potato Empanadas; Pulled Chicken Empanadas; Butternut Squash & Cheddar Empanadas and Vegan Empanadas!
The menu at Maize Blaze is very straightforward, and why not? Whilst they plan to eventually offer other Colombian dishes, in the meantime they’ve certainly mastered their empanadas and price them very reasonably. £5 will buy you a regular meal, consisting of one empanada, plantain chips, salad and salsa, and for only £1.50 extra a large meal includes all of this and an extra empanada!
Maize Blaze use gluten-free maize meal to produce the dough for the empanadas. Every menu item is gluten-free and dairy and meat products are all handled separately. The increasingly popular vegan option contains caramelized red onion, pepper confit, black beans & sweet potato, whilst the chicken and beef options can be made using halal meat.
Camden Lock Market, Most Weekdays, St Giles Market (near Tottenham Court Road Tube) every Thursday, Devonshire Square (near Liverpool Street Tube) the first week of every month.
Maize Blaze’s empanadas are a tangy, exotic, gluten-free alternative to Cornish Pasties and Jamaican Patties and at £5 for a meal are a steal. Ruth has a largely gluten-free diet, and her menu will remain gluten-free even as it expands, with corn being a traditional ingredient of Colombian food.
The feedback has been excellent so far and Ruth plans to extend her menu and build a more permanent team. In her own words: “For me, it’s about big bold flavour and bright colours; popularising Colombian food outside of just the Colombian community in London; and having a vibrant and engaging team to keep growing and expanding.”