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Friday, September 7, 2012

When in Spain, You Must Eat ‘Churro Chocolaatey’

We live in a better world. There are hardly any secrets left. World Wide Web answers most of our queries from the easy comfort of our home. We have TV, movies, reality shows, visitors that educate us, transporting us to most weird places which we would never dream of going, exposing us to the customs and culture of world beyond our reach.


Many years ago, when there was no Google, no u-tube, no web connection, World was a lonely place. People met only those who lived just few miles away. Adventurous people travelled to new places to explore different regions of the world. When they returned, they brought back stories to share about the different culture, their dressing style and their food habits.

One theory is that once an adventurous Portuguese man travelled to HongKong, Hunger pangs took him for a walk in search of something to eat. He drooled when he followed the smell of frying bread. There was a group of Chinese men sitting in a way-side restaurant, dipping the fried bread in the hot porridge and eating.

Seeing his hungry expressions the Chinese men invited him to share their meal.

"What is this?" he asked holding the crispy fried bread in his hand.

"This is 'You Tiao'" they said.

He loved 'You Tiao' so much that he started visiting this place everyday. 

He thought that it would be nice if he could take back the culinary technique  to Europe so that people in his country could enjoy it too.

But unfortunately, nobody was willing to share the cooking secrets with him.

The Chinese Emperor had made it a crime with capital punishment to share the knowledge with the foreigners. 

Thus although he relished ‘You Tiao’ he could not learn the Chinese skill of ‘pulling’ the dough. 

As a result, when he returned back home, he tried to explain it in the best way to reproduce the same taste.

They modified the dough, introducing a star design through star shaped die.

Thus Churro came to exist in Spain

Churro are often sold by street vendors, who fry them freshly on the street and sell them hot. They are crunchy and are either sprinkled with sugar or served with hot chocolate.

This is the must-have-snack for me when I come to Spain.

A batter of flour, sugar and salt is piped out from large Churrera through a star-shaped nozzle into the pan containing hot oil. This reminded me of the Jalebi hawker on Indian street who pipe out the batter in concentric circles into hot pot of oil. 

 The chef controls the flow of the batter by moderating the valve.

With the help of two steel rods, he controls the flow into spiral motion forming concentric ring.

he stirs it for even frying of the batter on all sides

When they are crisp and browned, he carefully lifts the fritters

Tosses them on a countertop

 cuts them with the scissors into strips

and serves it either with sprinkled sugar granules or with the cup of hot chocolate.

Best time to enjoy this snack is in the cold, winter, early morning, preferably at 5am, if you are awake.....or returning home from late night parties.

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