The perfect example of street food in CuBa: dough is fried till it is crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and sprinkled in sugar.
The origin of churros is unclear. One theory suggests they were brought to Europe from China by the Portuguese. The Portuguese sailed for the Orient and, as they returned from Ming Dynasty China to Portugal, they brought along with them new culinary techniques, including altering dough for youtiao, also known as Youzagwei in southern China, for Portugal. The new pastry soon crossed the border into Spain, where it was modified to have the dough extruded through a star-shaped die rather than pulled.
Another theory is that the churro was made by Spanish shepherds, to substitute for fresh bakery goods. Churro paste was easy to make and fry in an open fire in the mountains, where shepherds spend most of their time.
Churros are fried until they become crunchy, and may be sprinkled with sugar. The surface of a churro is ridged due to having been piped from a churrera, a syringe-like tool with a star-shaped nozzle. Churros are generally prisms in shape, and may be straight, curled or spirally twisted.
Like pretzels, churros are sold by street vendors, who may fry them freshly on the street stand and sell them hot. In Spain and much of Latin America, churros are available in cafes for breakfast, although they may be eaten throughout the day as a snack. Specialized churrerías can be found in the form of a shop or a trailer during the holiday period. In addition, countries like Peru, Venezuela and Colombia have churrerías throughout their streets. In Portugal, they are commonly eaten at carnivals, fairs and other celebrations, where they are made freshly at street stands.
The dough is a mixture of flour, water and salt. Some versions are made of potato dough.
In Seville (Andalusia), the name “calientes” or “calentitos de rueda” is sometimes used instead of the word churro. These tend to refer to the thicker variant, called porra in northern Spain, the Basque Country and other regions. Calientes are usually fried in the shape of a continuous spiral and cut into portions afterwards. The center of the spiral is thicker and softer, and for many a delicacy in itself. The standard “churro” is also sold under the name “calentitos de papas”, the name referring to the softer mashed potato–like texture.
In parts of Eastern Andalusia, a much thinner dough is used, which does not allow for the typical ridges to be formed on the surface of the churro. The final result therefore has a smooth surface, and is more pliable and of a slightly thinner diameter than standard Spanish churros. Another difference is that sugar is never sprinkled on them, because the flavour is not considered suitable.
Filled, straight churros are found in Cuba (with fruit, such as guava), Brazil (with chocolate, doce de leite, among others), and in Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Mexico (usually filled with dulce de leche or cajeta but also with chocolate and vanilla). In Colombia and Venezuela, churros are glazed with arequipe and sweetened condensed milk. In Spain, a considerably wider diameter is used to accommodate the filling. In Uruguay, churros can also come in a savoury version, filled with melted cheese.
Churros in American theme parks and street fairs are most often rolled in cinnamon sugar or other flavored sugars.
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