You’ve had churros, haven’t you? You know, those Spanish fried-dough pastry snacks that you eat sprinkled with sugar and/or dipped into that delicious hot chocolate drink (that’s really almost a chocolate custard). They are the nearest thing the Mediterranean diet has to an unhealthy Scottish ‘delicacy’. In the unlikely event that you have never had one, remedy that deficiency the next time you visit Spain!
Churros are popular across much of the world, including Latin American countries, France, Portugal and the USA. However, I have to be honest, I rather took them for granted, in much the same way you take doughnuts for granted, never bothering to discover who came up with the idea. So I did a little digging and came up with this, in the Huffington Post of all places…
It transpires that no-one actually knows how churros came into being. One school of thought is that they were the invented by nomadic shepherds in Spain, who, being high in the hills, had no way of getting to a bakery. Consequently, they came up with churros as they could be easily cooked in frying pans over a fire.
This ‘shepherd’ theory is supported by the fact that there is a breed of sheep called “Navajo-Churro”, in turn descended from the “Churra” sheep of Iberia, and whose horns look similar the fried churros.
An alternative history is that churros are actually Chinese in origin! The story goes that Portuguese sailors came across them in Northern China, where they were called “You Tiao”. The Spanish latched on to this foodstuff, but put their own twist on it by passing the churros through a star-tipped pipe which gave the churros the characteristic ridges (although there are regional variations throughout Spain, including the ‘plain’, un-ridged version common in Andalucia).
Irrespective of who came up with the idea, the Conquistadors took them to South America, where there are now even more variations on the theme, from guava-filled churros in Cubaa to dulce-de-leche filled ones in Mexico and a cheese-filled version in Uruguay.
After all this, I expect you are feeling hungry. So here’s a churros recipe (and as I haven’t tried it I take no responsibility if you make a mess of the kitchen or worse, but it looks pretty good!): https://spanishfood.about.com/od/dessertssweets/r/churros.htm