Imagine, if you will, a happy little doughnut – we’ll call him Derek – out for a walk in the forest on a spring morning. He has a smile on his face and a song on his lips as Derek recently got a promotion at work, and he’s building up the courage to ask Davina, an oh-so-shapely cinnamon doughnut, out to dinner, so he’s feeling on top of the world. He comes to a fork in the path and, instead of opting for the meadow route chooses to head towards the waterfall and, although his Mother always told him that doughnuts should never get too wet, he knows he’ll move too fast to get more than a little damp. Walking a little further, he reaches the waterfall and, feeling brave, decides to walk along the ledge behind the falls. Yes, life sure is going great for Derek. He’s even right now feeling the beginnings of inspiration deep inside, and can’t wait to go home to put paint to canvas and capture this beautiful day. Mary Muffin had mentioned that one or two visitors to her gallery had paused by his work, and he’s got the optimistic feeling that this week he’ll sell his first piece.
Distracted by his thoughts while edging along the path behind the waterfall, he’s unfortunately not watching where he’s going and suddenly stumbles, catching his foot in a small crack between two slabs of rock. Try as he might he can’t pull himself free. Vapour from the waterfall begins slowly begins to condense on his delicious body and his Mothers warning begins to play over and over inside his head. The claws of panic begin to grip him as he realises that his foot is well and truly wedged into place and so, while bracing his arms on the wall next to him, he begins to wriggle around furiously trying to free himself. His movements begin to dislodge pebbles and stones from the wall, but he’s too busy concentrating on freeing his foot to notice.
He’s grabbing anything that will give himself better leverage; vines, roots, branches, rocks, anything that will give him better purchase to free his foot. He doesn’t notice that a large boulder is gradually being loosened by all the movement, held precariously in the rock wall above Derek.
Giving one almighty tug Derek feels his foot pull free, but as soon as he places his weight upon it he feels a sharp pain that indicates that he’s twisted his ankle in all the commotion. Resigning himself to wait a little longer while his ankle rests, he leans back against the waterfall wall with a heavy thump.
A horrifying rumble above him immediately grabs his attention, and just as Derek the Doughnut looks up the boulder crashes down, hitting his delicious sugary body and, with its impressive weight, running over him like a steamroller, stretching him out from his natural round plumpness into a long, thick line.
Derek almost faints when he looks down at himself and sees his new, deformed shape. Where is his curvaceous figure, his shapely lines!?! Why, he looks like a doughnut stick. Davina won’t want to have dinner with him now, his Mother won’t recognise him, he doesn’t even recognise himself. He can’t go back to Cake Town with this…this monstrous body; baby doughnuts will cry when they see him and adolescent cookies will call him names and throw stones at him. He’d be better off hiding in the forest and making his home here in the dark space behind the waterfall, scavenging what he can at night and avoiding the light of day. Throwing back his head and raising his face to the heavens, he pours all his anguish and pain into one long animal howl, “Churrrrrooooooooooo.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how Churros were born.
Or, if you want to believe the lies, they were either created by Spanish shepherds to make up for the lack of fresh baked goodies, or were brought to Europe by the Portuguese who had learned the technique from the Chinese while over there establishing trade connections.
Churros are basically a fried dough treat, piped out of specially shaped nozzles (much like the nozzles used in decorating cakes), and served hot after being rolled in sugar and cinnamon.
Before coming to America I had never heard to them, and had mistakenly lived a life that I believed was complete in every way. Until a few weeks ago when The Hublet whisked me away for a surprise weekend in Orlando. While down there we decided to get a visit to Epcot out of the way because it’s the one park that wants to educate you about Earth and its inhabitants, so theoretically could be considered the ‘boring’ one out of its much more entertaining siblings (Universal Studios, Disney World, Sea World and so on), so we decided that we’d rather do it now while on a short trip and then, later on in the year, take a week off, return and focus on doing all the fun parks without having our holiday soured by the giant Disney cash cow that is Epcot (which I personally believe gives very little back in terms of entertainment, while trying as hard as possible to extort as much money as it can out of visitors with gift shops, nick-knack stands, restaurants and snack wagons located every few metres).
While at Epcot we decided to not go mad with eating and drinking our way around the world, instead selectively choosing somewhere nice for breakfast, lunch and dinner with the odd I-must-try-that indulgence in between.
Upon arriving at Epcot and getting the few thrill rides (and by ‘thrill’ I mean completely safe and adrenaline free) out of the way (The Hublet was crushed to discover that the Crash Test Dummy ride – his personal highlight – was closed until Autumn, and was in the process of being redesigned and revamped into a ride called Test Track that was overtly sponsored by Chevrolet), we entered the World Showcase and democratically decided to go left and start with Mexico. We enjoyed the relaxing Gran Fiesta Tour ride, however were both a little annoyed that instead of being a learning ride it seemed to have been dumbed down and had had a few Disney characters added, no doubt in an attempt to make Epcot as a whole appeal to children a little more and to move away from its long-standing reputation of being the pretty but stern educator.
After browsing through the admittedly stunning area inside the pyramid (essentially a giant shop), The Hublet decided he would like Mexican food for breakfast. He opted for the Taqueria Nachos, which was a gloriously colourful basket of red, black and plain tortilla chips with the expected toppings of beef, cheese sauce, tomatoes, jalapenos, black beans, and sour cream. It looked and tasted delicious, and I in particular was very taken by the red and black tortilla chips, having not seen anything other than the usual ‘white’ ones before. I didn’t have quite the same appetite as him, so instead decided to have something smaller and indulge my sweet tooth with the Churros & Mexican caramel sauce menu item.
I had no idea what Churros were and I only chose them as they were the sole Dessert option.
Wow wow wow. Four long sugary churros served warm with a hint of cinnamon and an amazingly sweet, smooth caramel sauce to dip them in. Crisp on the outside with a satisfying chewiness inside, and absolutely gorgeous overall. I was utterly hooked.
To my credit I didn’t drag The Hublet back there during the remainder of our visit, but made a vow that I would return to North East Florida and track these delicious morsels down, finding out where they congregated, which trails they used, which watering holes they frequented and, when the moment was right, I would unleash myself upon them and gobble them up.
If, unlike me, you have faith in your own self control and trust yourself with making Churros at home, then Christina recently posted a wonderful recipe for Churros con Chocolate on her blog Sweet Pea’s Kitchen. You only need 5 ingredients for the Churros and she makes the bold claim that the batter is virtually fool-proof. If a caramel dipping sauce appeals a little more than a chocolate one, Bree Hester has posted a great Caramel Sauce recipe on her blog Baked Bree. She’s refreshingly honest about the battle scars received in her pursuit of making a good sauce, and provides her hints and tips on making it work.
All the best cooking these little morsels for yourselves, however for me the Great Churro Hunt of 2012 has begun!