Churros: a secret history

July 17, 2011 14:00 1 comment

If you’ve been on the streets of London lately you may have noticed the increasing prevalence of the humble churrería, previously the domain of Spain and Latin America alone.

Laura Cronk

In vans, trailers, cafes and on dessert menus, the churro has arrived.

Churros, tasty deep fried sticks of dough, sugar sprinkled and served with warm chocolate sauce for dipping, have long been the working man’s breakfast or after-party snack of choice in Spain, with churrerías often the first eateries to open in the morning, and the last to close at night.

They quickly gained popularity in Mexico and South America, and are finally seducing London with their sticky, oily charms.

The history of the churro is ancient and revered, lending the snack an almost mythical status. It begins not in Spain but in China, where Portuguese merchants first tasted youtiao, strips of golden fried salty pastry traditionally eaten for breakfast.

When the Portuguese recreated this delicacy in Iberia, adding sugar rather than salt and introducing the now-familiar starred shape of the strips, the churro was born.

In China, youtiao translates as ‘oil-fried devil’; the snack was original served in pairs, symbolising Song dynasty official Qin Hui and his wife, the ‘devils’ who brought about the demise of the respected general.

In Spain this folklore was lost, and the churro takes its name from the churra sheep, whose horns it is said to resemble.

It was Spanish shepherds who popularised the dish, working as they did in the isolated terrain of the mountains for weeks and months at a time, they did not have access to fresh bread and so used the youtiao idea to cook their own substitute using no more than flour, water, oil and an open fire.

Meanwhile, in Spanish towns, an exchange occurred which transformed the snack from shepherd’s fare to a royal delicacy.

While the conquistadors took churros to South America, they brought back chocolate and plentiful sugar, turning dull dough sticks into a sweet sensation.

Once in South America, the churro continued to evolve from a plain, thin stick to a more rotund stuffed speciality, varying according to region.

While the Brazilians prefer a chocolate filling, the Cubans like their churros with Guava stuffing, Mexicans with dulce de leche or vanilla. In Uruguay, a savoury combination arose: cheese stuffed churros, and indeed, in South Eastern Spain they are still eaten with salt rather than sugar, closer relatives of the original youtiao. Mexican churros are said to act as the bridge between dessert and savoury churros as salt is added to the dough before kneading, while the filling is tooth-achingly sweet.

If you’re suddenly feeling peckish, there are now ample opportunities to satisfy a churros craving in London. From the Churros Bros café in Ealing, Churros London in the Brunswick Centre, and Camino by King Cross, to the Churros Garcia van which can be found at Portobello Road Market as well as serving events around London, Churros lovers can rejoice: there’s no longer any shortage of the sweet snack in this city.

Share it / Compartir:

1 Comment

Leave a Reply


*



The Prisma News

  • Culture, Listings, Visual Arts Buenos Aires: Coppola & Zuviria

    Buenos Aires: Coppola & Zuviria

    Photo by Edwardx This photographic exhibition will be taking place on the 20th and 21st of September, during London Open House..   The photographs displayed at the residence of the Ambassador of Argentina were captured by the photographers Horacio Coppola and Facundo de Zuviria. Both artists were born...

    Read more →
  • Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus Living in Fractured Times

    Living in Fractured Times

    Eric Hobsbawm’s posthumous book, Fractured Times, is a scintillating collection of essays covering the cultural history of Europe through the Twentieth Century.   Steve Latham   The volume is panoramic in its scope: covering inter alia the role of arts festivals, the development of Jewish...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Listings, Screen A showcase of Latin American cinema and music

    A showcase of Latin American cinema and music

    Films and concerts from Latin America will be in the multicultural city of London from 9th of September to 9th of October.   In this month devoted to cinema and music, there will be film screenings, as part of the “Bolíwood” Festival (as in Bolivar, not Bollywood) and concerts, all with Latin...

    Read more →
  • Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus An Englishman for Scotland

    An Englishman for Scotland

    When we were up in Edinburgh for the Festival, we expected there to be lots of references to the independence issue.   Steve Latham   Suprisingly, most of the acts, stand-up comedians included, fought shy of the question. This does not seem to have been due to any self-censorship. Instead, the...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Listings, Migrants, Multiculture, Screen Ghosts, memories and traumas of Mexico

    Ghosts, memories and traumas of Mexico

    A symposium taking place on 12th September will analyse the form in which varieties of emotion, and personal and collective experiences, can be expressed visually, with particular reference to Mexico and the 20th and 21st centuries.   Under the title ‘Specular Ghosts: Memory and Trauma in Mexican...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Pages Nepomuceno, Gabo and the memories

    Nepomuceno, Gabo and the memories

    Eric Nepomuceno was a thirty-something Brazilian journalist with a budding career when he landed in Havana during the summer of 1978. Almost before he could brush off the dust from the road he attended a meeting that would be a turning point in his life.   Eric NepomucenoPhoto from orelhadolivro.com Francisco...

    Read more →
  • Comments, Culture, In Focus, Pages 100 years of  playing cyclops, 50 years of Rayuela

    100 years of playing cyclops, 50 years of Rayuela

    “Would I find La Maga? Most of the time it was just a case of my putting in an appearance, going along the Rue de Seine to the arch leading into la Quaid de Conti, and I would see her slender form against the olive ashen which floats along the river as she crossed back and forth on the Pont des Art,...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Screen Mariano Bartolomeu: pointing a camera in many directions

    Mariano Bartolomeu: pointing a camera in many directions

    Between 1989 and 2008 he made a large number of short films influenced by European directors and European and North American writers. Now he feels it is time to develop his own voice more strongly.   Mariano Bartolomeu Graham Douglas   Like most Angolans his family has suffered from decades...

    Read more →
  • Comments, Critical Dialogues, In Focus Conga, Gregorio Santos and Máxima Acuna

    Conga, Gregorio Santos and Máxima Acuna

    The words are a battle cry, a plea to save the region’s environment and water supply and put an end to predatory and polluting mining practices.   Claudio Chipana   The people of the Cajamarca region in northern Peru are rallying against multinational mining company Yanacocha’s ‘Conga’...

    Read more →
  • Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus Regeneration as degeneration

    Regeneration as degeneration

    During the Edinburgh Fringe, we stayed in a delightful apartment in Leith. Leith is the old port-town of Edinburgh.   Steve Latham   It was a pleasant place to base ourselves in during the Festival, while we travelled in daily on the city bus service. It had become run-down and derelict, but...

    Read more →
  • Comments, In Focus What is peace?

    What is peace?

    A white cow is not a white dove, says Eduardo Embry, a Chilean poet based in the UK. A gracing pristine cow is heavy, and the meaning of peace is not to appease or to be appeased. By contrast, peace is not a given, but an ongoing process of understanding and doing together.   Mabel Encinas   Peace...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Visual Arts A giant man and a tiny woman in the Hunterian museum

    A giant man and a tiny woman in the Hunterian museum

    This Hunterian museum, which unites anatomical and pathological specimens to be studied by undergraduate and postgraduate students, also houses Charles Byrne and Caroline Crachami.   Photo By StoneColdCrazy Edith Tacusi Oblitas   Irishman Charles Byrne was 2 metre and 48 centimetres tall when he died...

    Read more →
  • Comments, In Focus, Needle's Eye Reparations and genetics: Have they anything to say to each other?

    Reparations and genetics: Have they anything to say to each other?

    Genetic modification and reparations for slavery might seem on first appearances to be somewhat distant companions.   Nigel Pocock   How should we define ‘GM’? If we limit the definition to a laboratory, deliberately excluding the social context, then we are unlikely to make a connection...

    Read more →
  • Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus “F” is for Fringe

    “F” is for Fringe

    Photo by Kim Traynor Visiting the Edinburgh Fringe, we went to several stand-up comedians; and we learned that bad language and explicit sexual references are endemic. In particular, the F-word is ubiquitous.   Steve Latham   Maybe I am shocking because I am getting on in years, and it expresses...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Globe, Screen, United Kingdom London Spanish Film Festival celebrates its 10th year

    London Spanish Film Festival celebrates its 10th year

    The 10th edition of the festival will take place from the 25th of September to the 5th of October, bringing together Spanish and Catalan productions , comedy and cuisine.   Photo by London Spanish Film Festival London Spanish Film Festival is 10 years old this year, and to mark the occasion the...

    Read more →
  • Comments, Culture, In Focus, Screen Carpe Diem

    Carpe Diem

    (…) My wife has proposed a family suicide / both of us and our two daughters / when the mushroom cloud arrives (…) Affonso Romano de Sant´Anna.   Armando Orozco Tovar   We are surrounded by death, something that sounds like stating the obvious, a great truth. But what are we going to do...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Pages Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the flight of the prince

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the flight of the prince

    Seventy years after his plane was tragically shot down, we are still no closer to knowing which of the Nazi Luftwaffe pilots – Horst Rippert or Robert Heichele – ended the life of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.   Miguel Fernández Martínez   On the 31st of July 1944, at 8:45am, Saint-Exupéry...

    Read more →
  • Culture, Pages, Trade Unions, Workers ‘Private’ is ‘Public’: Health Care is our right

    ‘Private’ is ‘Public’: Health Care is our right

    “The Price of Experience: Writings on living with cancer” by Mike Marqusee demands an end to inequalities in health care and challenges the British government’s ideology which blames people for their ill health. It makes us think about how this “winners” and “losers”...

    Read more →
  • Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus Revelation of “Boyhood”

    Revelation of “Boyhood”

    This is the latest film directed by Richard Linklater. Astonishingly, the movie was filmed over twelve years, taking thirty-nine days of shooting.   Richard LinklaterPhoto by Siebbi Steve Latham   Tracing the life of a young boy as he grows into a young man, the picture follows the central character’s...

    Read more →
  • Comments, EdgeNotes, In Focus Are we decadent?

    Are we decadent?

    “Decadence” is usually a term used by right-wing people to castigate individuals and societies with whom they disagree, and whose lifestyle they disapprove of.   Photo from http://goo.gl/9HxW4f Steve Latham   The arts are frequently said to be in decline, embodied in paradoxical trends:...

    Read more →