A churro is a fried-dough pastry-based snack and is insanely popular in Barcelona and all over Spain, for that matter. Normally eaten as a snack or street food item, churros can also be enjoyed soaked in hot chocolate! There’s nothing quite like a Spanish siesta in Barcelona with hot and sugary churros in hand!
Despite seeing them on sale so much during my travel around Barcelona, the ‘discovery’ of churros was actually down to the Portuguese, rather than the Spanish. The Portuguese returned from China and brought back with them some new culinary techniques, including modifying the dough for the Chinese Youtiao, for the people of Portugal. However, the Chinese Emperor of the Ming Dynasty at the time had made it illegal to share knowledge of how to make youtiao with foreigners, and as a result, churros are not ‘pulled’ like the youtiao but instead ‘extruded’.
Churros nowadays are typically fried until they become crunchy, and may be sprinkled with sugar. The surface of a churro is ridged due to having been piped from a churrera – a syringe with a star-shaped nozzle. Churros may be straight, curled, or spirally twisted. I think this is a little like French fries, where you can get different styles to eat. Yet regardless of the aesthetics, one constant you will find with churros is the smell – oh my goodness, the smell! When you walk past xurrerias on the roadside in Barcelona (and there are many) and smell these churros being fried you cannot help but walk over and take a closer look! And if there’s a pot of chocolate to dip your churros in, then all the better!
Like pretzels, churros are often sold by street vendors, who will often fry them freshly on the street stand and sell them hot. Throughout Barcelona, churros are available in cafés to be eaten as a snack, along with coffee and/or cakes. Specialized xurrerias (or churrerías) can be found in Barcelona and that serve nothing but churros, and I found a place called Comaxurros – which I think serves up the best churros (and churro con chocolat) in the city!
I never knew too much about Spanish food when I first arrived in Barcelona, but one snack that I always knew about was the Churro, as I had eaten them back home in London before. As always, though, they seem much tastier (and fresher) when you buy them authentically in Spain!