Ooh it's so good!
I used to think I was a churro connoisseur. Then I went to Lima, Peru and learned my churro education was woefully deficient.
Let me back up. I once had a summer job where I needed to “make” churros. That essentially meant opening a box, prying apart the frozen sticks of dough, cutting the end off a bag of cinnamon and sugar and dumping it onto a cafeteria tray, spraying the churros with water, rolling them in the cinnamon and sugar mix, and stabbing them through the rotating bars in a warmer.
Then when they were warm enough, I’d remove the sticky concoctions with a piece of wax paper while attempting to avoid bumping the light bulb that warmed them and frying my hand in the process, and sell them to the swimsuit-clad guests at Noah’s Ark Waterpark. (It always struck me as odd that people in swim suits would choose to eat warmed dough rolled in sugar. It was like they were saying “I’ve been sucking it in all day and have fooled no one. Bring on the junk.”)
Whenever the churros arrived broken in two, or got stale at the end of the night, rather than inflict such substandard product on our guests, part of my job – my duty! – was to consume them so the guests wouldn’t have a less than perfect churro. (The co-worker who taught me that if you throw a box of frozen churros hard enough, you can break a whole bunch of them at once is still a personal hero.)
Anyway . . . . Despite my professional interest and expertise in the topic of churros, and experience having eaten them at every place I could in both Mexico and the US, I learned in Lima that my churro knowledge had a gaping hole: somehow my entire life I didn’t know such a thing existed as a San Francisco-style churro.
We stumbled across a couple of different churro shops near the San Francisco Church in Lima (famous for its catacombs). I had no idea what the shops were selling, other than noticing the first one had a line out the door, including several police officers, so I decided to get in line and ask questions later. When I arrived at the front of the line, I thought I was buying a roll that had been rolled in sugar. “So what?” I wondered, but ponied up my two soles (the equivalent of 66¢ US) anyway. Then I bit into the roll. The dough – hot, chewy, and covered in sugar – was delicious. Sort of like the best sugared donut you’ve had in a long time. But the best part was two bites in, when I hit the hot caramel filling. (Custard and chocolate are also offered.)
You may be thinking “so what? a churro is a churro.” But you’re wrong. Somehow the delivery vehicle (the dough) isn’t just a different shape than the typical churro, but also a different type altogether, changing not just the wrapper to filling ratio, but the taste as well.
I don’t know how I never knew that Churros San Francisco exist. (I didn't even know about Oreo Churros, which we found on the street in Seoul, South Korea.) But now that I do, my churro eating will never be the same. To all those swimsuit-clad tourists at Noah’s Ark: you have no idea what you’re missing.
If you go to Lima, head toward San Francisco Church on Jiron Lampa. At number 258 you’ll find a small bakery with signs on the open doors saying Churros San Francisco. Make sure they’re fresh out of the oven and enjoy.