Most people associate the centuries-old churro with Portugal or Spain, but the beloved fried dough dessert is thought to have originated in China. (The theory is that, from there, the country’s Portuguese population brought it to Spain.) There are also competing theories about how the dessert was invented.
One story goes that the treat was made by Spanish shepherds who needed something simple to consume while wandering the mountains. Whatever the origin,
churros (whose name likely derives from the curly horns of Spain’s Churra sheep), are appearing on area menus including Alma Cocina Latina, La Cuchara, Papi’s Tacos, and even Canton’s Iron Rooster in the form of a “waffle churro.”
While delicious any time of year, in Baltimore, churros sell better in colder months when consumers favor warm desserts.
“They’re one of our bestselling desserts,” says David Zamudio, the Venezuelan-born executive chef at Alma, “but we sell way more of them in winter.”
From Cuba to Peru, churros are widespread all around the globe.
“Maybe they’re popular because they’re easy and cheap to make, and people love the crispy, airy dough,” Zamudio says.
While all churros are made from flour, water, and salt, the dipping sauces can vary. Zamudio’s churros are coated with a sweet and spicy Royal cinnamon and paired with a dark Valrhona chocolate made with Venezuelan cacao beans that get their zing from cloves and allspice. They also look more like a spiral than a stick.
“I serve mine in a spiral shape,” says the chef. “The stick shape is boring. The way I serve them has the ‘wow’ effect.”