While Spain is famed for its rich, plant-based Mediterranean diet, just a quick stroll through any Spanish street and you’ll also see an abundance of sweet treats on offer at various pastelerias and cafes. The nation’s sweet tooth is unparalleled, but look across the pond at the countries of Latin America, and you’ll find these dishes have also made their way into the cuisine of this vibrant culture.
So where do these desserts come from? And how did they become so popular in Latin America? Take a trip down this sugar-filled avenue to find out more about three of Spain’s most famous desserts and how their popularity grew.
Usually sold from stalls or stores that open onto the street, their smell entices people passing nearby, whetting appetites at any time of the day. Some people eat them regularly, and each family has its own tradition of eating them at specific times – on public holidays or otherwise – whether for breakfast on Sundays, on cold Christmas afternoons, or as a summertime snack at the beach.
Churros are a kind of long, thin donut shaped like a flute, sometimes with grooves all along the sides. There are two things that make them irresistible: the fact that they are fried, and how crispy they are when freshly made. It's almost impossible to just have one.
Those who are capable of resisting the temptation of churros often express a certain disdain for the ingredients used to make them: basically just fried dough made from flour and water. Perhaps they are right, but isn't that what some of the world's tastiest snacks are made from?
Not all churros are the same. There are the classic, long ones with angled grooves, which are sometimes shaped into a ring. In the Madrid, Castile and León, and Castile–La Mancha regions, these are given the generic name of "churro." Then there are "porras," also known as "tejeringos" or "jeringos" in Andalusia, which are thicker and not so dense inside.
They are best enjoyed with a hot chocolate, a coffee with milk, or simply on their own, sprinkled with sugar.
There is also a great churro tradition in Mexico, where they are sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon after being fried. In fact, Mexico City has a legendary 24-hour churro store, El Moro
, which was founded in 1935.