Then, we visited Chocalateria San Ginés, the most famous churreria (churro shop) in Madrid. It's plastered with photos of celebrities who have eaten there, such as the king of Spain, actors, sports stars, and politicians. We had to sit inside, at the last available table, since the dozens outside were all full.
The churros were terrific. They had been deep-fried at high heat, so that the oil had not permeated them. They were still piping-hot. (The shop has very high turnover, and it serves nothing but churros and chocolate.) We also ordered a cup of chocolate, eating the churros the traditional way by dipping them in the chocolate drink, which was neither sweet nor bitter. The chocolate is served in cup, but it's more like a sauce: it is almost as viscous as pudding and it really sticks to the churros.
This experience with churros reminds me of when I first understood plain yogurt, in Greece at Karren Levis and Greg Kerman's wedding. I had eaten tremendous amounts of yogurt in the US, but always with berries or other flavoring so that the yogurt was really a vector for the other flavors. I didn't like plain yogurt, which struck me as both bland and sour. Though I usually bought a cheap store brand, this applied to better prepackaged yogurts as well.
Then, while we were in Greece, I tried plain Greek yogurt. It was a revelation and seemed to me a completely different food that only happened to share a name with what I had been eating in the United States. It is traditionally eaten with honey drizzled over the top, but it doesn't need much.
Since then, I eat Greek yogurt from the supermarket (so fatty, it can't be called a health food), and it's not the same but it's still good. And I even appreciate regular plain supermarket yogurt more, since I see what it is a dim echo of -- though I do not eat it by choice. Mostly, though, we make our own yogurt from Greek yogurt cultures.
We will definitely go back to San Ginés. I might even try churros again in the US. But probably not.
(Photo credits: Sandie)