The snow had just begun to fall. Icy snowflakes powdered the pavement but dissolved into nothing within moments. My sister had told me that back home in London they’d been hit by almost arctic conditions, but here in Madrid the heavens had only dropped a fluttering of snow; although it was still deathly cold. Undoubtedly an evening for sugary churros, chocolate caliente and a warm fireplace.
By working as an au pair I had the luxury of living with a Spanish family, which of course meant being fattened up with the most delicious, authentic Spanish food. So it was on bitter evenings like this that I really appreciated being cooked for by a man who had championed himself as (in his broken English) the Best Churros Cooker. Slight grammatical error aside, I had to agree with him. Churros are a fried dough pastry, doused in sugar and served with so-thick-you-eat-it-with-a-spoon hot chocolate. It’s so popular that after a night out in Madrid, forget your kebab, it’s the San Gines chocolatería that you have to head to in order to pick up your late night fix of chocolate and carbs.
…food played a major part in the lives of my Spanish family.
However, no cafés or chocolaterías are even a scratch on the churros produced by the Dad of my Spanish family. I remember the first time I tried it. I was woken up by the smell of hot fried dough (need I say more) and the lively chatter of the family in the kitchen. Breakfast was always a big event at the weekend, along with lunch, and dinner actually. Come to think of it, food played a major part in the lives of my Spanish family. So this breakfast was not going to be an exception, especially now that the father had whipped out his apron and the deep-fat fryer. It meant churros, and lots of them.
Like a dog on a scent, I followed the smell of sugary, chocolatey goodness and came in to the kitchen. There, sitting on the table was the most glorious mountain of churros. Before I knew it I was hurried into a seat whie the self-proclaimed Best Churros Cooker smiled and chatted to me in Spanish. I’m not sure what he said, but I like to think it was something along the lines of “what you’re about to eat will change your life… forever”.
Not that the flavours of churros are particularly complex…
The first bite was an epiphany: all of my foodie dreams and desires answered in one, crisp and sweet bite. It was like nothing I had eaten. Not that the flavours of churros are particularly complex, it’s only made of flour and water, after all. It’s just that on that cold morning, in the company of a lovely family, sweetness and warmth is exactly what I wanted.
So that’s why on that cold winter’s evening, when the falling snow made its best attempt to freeze through to my bones, churros and chocolate caliente were what every inch of my soul cried out for, into that bitter Spanish night.
Image courtesy of Alice Mulhearn