Let’s face it, if you have never tried a churro, what have you been doing with your life?! I know you can get them in the UK, but they aren’t easy to find, and were a bit of a rip-off when I last had them there. Here in Spain however, you’re pretty much tripping over them, and better still, you can have them for breakfast and not feel guilty about it!
The origins of them are unclear, but what’s for certain is that the recipe doesn’t change very much, even in neighbours Portugal and France. Essentially, churros are long fried doughnuts that come by the dozen or half dozen, usually sprinkled with sugar, and there’s no way you are just going to have one. However, in Spain, things get complicated with a variety of names and other fried dough goodness that makes this country unique. You might see other names of churros such as xurros, tallos, jeringos, tejeringos or simply masa frita. But one thing for sure, is that churros is the universal name.
Churros don’t just come plain with sugar. If you happen to be around a festival, or certain churrerías, you can get larger ones, filled with various things like chocolate, dulce de leche, cream and white chocolate, all of which can be subsequently covered in chocolate. You can also get regular churros completely submerged in chocolate, Which is sold individually like the filled variety.
But what else can a churrería offer you beside the original?
This is often mistaken for a churro, but they are different. Churros are usually cut immediately as they are being fried and the tube that feeds them into the fryer is the iconic star shape. Porras are usually fatter, and are fried completely intact in a huge spiral of batter, (which sometimes gets the name churro de redonda or round churro in English), then cut into manageable pieces, like a churro.
The taste is pretty much exactly the same, but the ingredients are slightly different as well as the texture, and many bars will make churros and they end up like these, especially in Andalusia. Some parts of Spain call these churros de patatas, even though they very rarely have any potato inside them. Just be careful with the word, as English people can get confused with the words porro, puro and puerro. A porro is a cannabis joint, a puro is a cigar, and a puerro is a leek. Quite embarrassing if you mix those words up isn’t it?
This is a combination of a porra and a doughnut, and these can be savoury as well as sweet. Valencia is the part of Spain where these are most iconic, but various varieties of them are popular in other parts of the country too. They are often eaten during various holidays and can be notably more expensive when compared with churros. It usually depends on the filling, sweet ones have cream and fruit in them, while savoury kinds can have cod, tuna, cheese and potato in them.
Cod Buñuelos are my favourite out of all of them, and it gives me the impression of something like a battered fish cake. The sweet ones dominate the scene though and you actually see these in most parts of Spain around Lent, eaten instead of pancakes for Shrove Tuesday. In Andalusia, they are like mini doughnuts, notably smaller, and you see them being made in a rather impressive conveyor-fryer-like contraption. Where there’s a holiday, buñuelo stands will probably appear.
What typically comes with churros, porras and buñuelos? That’s right, chocolate! It’s a match made in heaven, and you see it everywhere. It’s not a hot chocolate that people are familiar with in England or the States, rather a thick dipping chocolate that is one step away from being pure melted chocolate, but a little more runny. You’re not paying much for this either, around 2.50€- 3.50€ for one of these combos. Coffee is also a typical thing to have with these fried delights, and I would say it’s half and half in popularity with the locals. Some cafés may give you a complementary churro to go with your coffee which you can’t turn down. God bless every food outlet that gives away free churros.
There you have it. Whether you’re in A Coruña, or Almería, Churros, porras, and buñuelos in their many different forms or names are going to be close by. They aren’t healthy, but then most good food isn’t. Whether it be at a festival, the local café, or a little kiosk, it’s very rare you aren’t going to enjoy them, nor are you just having one. What a great way to start the day!