I’m always fascinated by unifying foods. I define a unifying food as one that makes people from contrasting backgrounds; financial, social, fill in the blank, come together to enjoy it. The hot dog at the ball game, a falafel sandwich in the Middle East, souvlaki in Athens, Curry Wurst in Berlin and I think – Churros in Barcelona. The USPS of food like this tend to be; cheap, fast, hot and delicious. Fat content has a lot to do with it, I’m sure (have a look at this article that compares Oreo cookies to Cocaine).
Churrería Laietana is so small and ramshackle that it’s easy to walk past it. Inside Mom and Pop pass each other blindly, a lifetime of working the same 2 meters no doubt. He operates the fryer, turning a bicycle sized wheel so that a nozzle begins spurting out churro dough, which he snips with scissors. She serves the coffee and the cornflour thickened Spanish hot chocolate. The man next to me orders 2 lengths of ‘porras’ (named for its girth) from the long coiled rings in the display cabinet. The woman next to me has her churros with a cold Cacaolat.Layla and I (we are having one of our rare ‘Mommy and Layla days’) share a portion of churros and hot chocolate, or at least that is the plan before she tastes it. After she tastes it, she drapes a protective arm around the pair and works her way through it with astonishing dexterity for a first timer. The churros are crispy on the outside and soft and savoury on the inside. The granulated sugar clings to its outside in greasy clumps. The hot chocolate seems bitter and dark next to the churros. On its own, it’s sweet and eagerly forms a skin (the best part) as soon as it is left unprodded for some minutes.
We pass a wonderful 15 minutes together. Watching ‘mom’ wash dirty dishes in a plastic bucket full of suds, marveling at the carpet of balled up napkins that begins to gain momentum as more customers work their way through their snacks. It costs us €2.95 and it’s easily the most fun we have had together in weeks. That’s the other thing about unifying foods, whenever they are around – so are the good times.
Via Laietana 46