The Sweet Life. Chocolatería San Gines. Madrid, Spain.

When I travel, I try desperately to avoid the tourist traps. However, there are some that no matter how many guide books mention their distinguished fame, celebrity clients or some piece of decor- a relic of some far away land - they still vale la pena visitar.  Such is the case of Chocolatería San Gines in Madrid, deserving of all the hype. This chocolatería y churrería has thousands of stories seeping from it's antique walls. Ones that have withheld the conversations, stolen kisses and wandering gazes of Spanish and international clients for over a century. No matter how full I am, or what type of food I've eaten beforehand, when I'm near Plaza Mayor, Madrid's ground zero, I always make room for a taza (cup) of this soupy-thick hot chocolate and a shared plate of churros.

Now with such a reputation I was convinced that churros were a Spanish invention, created for la merienda, or midday snack at 5pm.  Although, I had encountered churros of the Mexican variety while living in Los Angeles. So who incorporated the act of dipping these fried babies in chocolate? Well that's another fact that could stump me...and it's commonly known that chocolate was brought from the Americas. All those political and patriarchal issues aside, it could be argued that the ones responsible for the artistry of the churro dates back to Egyptian times, where hieroglyphics of churros can be seen in the images of Ramses' III bakery.

Churros or porras, whats the difference?
The masa or dough is relatively made in the same manner, however the porras include a higher ratio of water to flour as well as a splice of baking soda. Like all things that should be front and center at a summer fair, or for example the Feria de Sevilla, churros are fried foods. In Spain, this is mostly done with olive oil - which we all believe here on the Iberian continent to be healthier - although that doesn't mean it will be any kinder to the fat cells in your bum, but certainly worth it and if you need a positive side of the spectrum, an oil that is "good" for your heart.  Another tidbit to add is that in Andalusia, the porras are called churros....and well the skinny twisted variety aren't the main staple, if found at all. In Madrid, Catalonia, Basque Country, Valencia and other communities you will likely be served churros (the thin ones) by default.

Which one should I order?
Easy. Both of them. It might take you many tries to determine which is your favorite, and even after this taste test you may settle with the fact that they both speak to you. Fat? Oil? Well sure....but don't worry, dipping this delicately into a steaming hot cup of thick liquid dark chocolate will remove any doubts you have. For an even more gluttonous and more dangerous combination, I like to sprinkle sugar on the churro before giving it a bath.

Cash only. Line always. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Porras. Spanish churros in Andalusia. 






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