Executive summary by darmansjah
The Spanish take on a doughnut, the churro is a long, delicately-ridged tube (the dough is piped through a star-shaped nozzle) that’s deep-fried until golden, dusted with sugar-or sometimes cinnamon-and then dunked into thick hot chocolate. Sold in churreriasand from stalls in the street, this is an Iberian breakfast to beat them all.
ORIGIN The churro sheep was a breed known for the quality of its wool. The shepherds who looked after them were only able to cary the basics, which in Spain was fried bread-simple and easy to cook on the go. Sugar was later sprinkled on top and the star shaped form became popular, allowing the outside to crisp up while the centre remains soft. In some parts of the country, these deep-fried treats are knowns as porras.
TASTING You have the hangover to end them all-the sort that renders normal conversation impossible. Even thinking hurts. However, you catch the scent of sweet, frying dough, stop and look around, and spot the stall. A great vat is filled with boiling oil and the fresh dough, pushed through that star shaped nozzle, is plopped in. there is a delectable sizzle; no more than a minute passes before the crisp, piping-hot tubes are sieved out, drained and sprinkled with sugar. The first bite is red-hot and deeply addivtive-a crunch followed by blissful softness. A few more bites and it’s gone. The second churro disappears in record time. By the time the hot chocolate arrive, you’re coming back to life, your grimace replaced by a sugary grin.
FINDING IT The chocolateria San Gines in Madrid serves some of the finest churros in the country (US$2.60-US$5.60; 00 34 91 365 65 46).