After some cultural breaks, I’m back to food! Today I will write about a sweet culinary tradition in Spain: Chocolate y Churros.
The truth is that, Spaniards owe us half of that tradition! and this is because they first met cacao during America’s colonization. They started to send cacao to Spain around 1520, and by the XVII century cacao was a regular loading at Veracruz port’s.
In pre-Hispanic times, our ancestors used to drink a very special chocolate beverage made with cacao and a mix of chili and other spices. Spaniards liked cacao, but they didn’t like that spicy beverage, so they replaced chilis with sugar cane. After their amazing discovery, Hot Cacao with sugar cane became really popular in Spain and cacao, the magical ingredient, was quickly spread through Europe. Italy and France were the first countries to adopt it, after Spain of course.
During the XIX century, chocolate was extremely popular in Spain; this boundless love to chocolate even made that coffee was belatedly introduce to Spanish culinary customs, in comparison with coffee introduction in other countries. It was after Civil War that this particularly custom decreased and coffee become more popular than hot chocolate.
The first comment I’d like to make is that a cup of hot chocolate is a different beverage in México and in Spain. In México, we usually drink hot chocolate as a soft and very liquid beverage; the chocolate we use to make Mexican Hot Chocolate (or commonly called Chocolate de Metate Caliente) includes various spices and ingredients like cinnamon, vanilla, anís, almond, etc. The way we Mexicans usually make hot chocolate is by heating 1 liter of milk along with a bar of Metate Chocolate. Before boiling, we start to move it (I don’t know how to explain this action very well in english) with and special and very sophisticated culinary instrument called molinillo. So we end up drinking a bitter sweet and spiced beverage. We usually accompany hot chocolate with a piece of sweet bread.
Find below and image of this sophisticated Mexican culinary instrument that I took from Market Manila.
On the other side, Spanish Hot Chocolate is a dark and thick beverage. They use cocoa or milk chocolate bars, milk, sugar and corn starch to make their Hot Chocolate. And it is basically the same as in the Mexican Hot Chocolate: first, they first heat the milk and add cocoa (or chopped chocolate bars), then, they add sugar and finally they add corn starch to make the beverage thicker. Spaniards end up with a very thick hot chocolate, almost as if they just melt a chocolate bar and put it on a cup, thought is not that cloying as you think, it’s just thick.
My father usually ask me: which one do you prefer? and I always answer: you can’t compare them! You see, there are things in life that you can compare, and that you can not compare. For example, is easy to campare between two Taquerías (Taco restaurants, jaja) in the same city, because they both offer the same product: tacos. But, for example, when people ask me to tell which city is best between Monterrey (the city I work in) or Uruapan (my hometown) I just can not answer because they are not comparable! Monterrey is a big city that offers you diversity and variety; and Uruapan, its an small and lovely (jaja ❤ ) town, really quite and with this colonial scent: this two cities are not comparable!
It is the same when it comes to Mexican Hot Chocolate and Spanish Hot Chocolate. Even though they are both Hot Chocolate, they are not even made with the same kind of chocolate, so for me, they are not comparable. Nevertheless, there are occasions in which Spanish Hot Chocolate is better; for example to soak sweet bread or churros or porras or cookies or whatever you would like to soak. Soaking bread into Mexican Hot Chocolate its OK but it usually ends in your bread falling apart in your cup, and this is really annoying; while Mexican Hot Chocolate is perfect to drink it as a normal beverage… it is even possible to drink two cups, but with Spanish Hot Chocolate is impossible.
Churros are the Spanish Hot Chocolate side dish par excellence, and it is a common dessert or snack that many countries un Latin America have adopted. It is one of the many frutas de sartén (fritter). Frutas de sartén are really popular in Spanish Cuisine, and we have adopted some of them like churros, buñuelos and doughnuts. These are basically fried dough, not very healthy but absolutely delicious. In Spain, there is a variation of the typical churros, these are porras. This variation is just like a bigger and softer churro, and its saltier though.
Finally, I have a few pictures proving that Chocolate y Churros make people happier, no one can’t hide and smile while eating churros!
Rústica (2011). Chocolate de Metate. http://www.rusttica.com/2011/11/chocolate-de-metate.html
SIAP (n.d.). Del Cacao al Chocolate: La historia del Cacao en México. http://www.siap.gob.mx/siaprendes/contenidos/3/02-cacao/contexto-4.html
Mi Petit Madrid (n.d.). Churros con Chocolate. http://www.mipetitmadrid.com/mipetitmadrid/web/seccion-es/5/comer-y-beber/articulo/historia-del-chocolate-con-churros