A Little Bit of History.
As it happens with so many other traditional recipes, tracing the origin of churros is not an easy task and there are several commonly accepted stories about them.
One of them says that it was Portuguese merchants who, at the beginning of the 16th century (some indicate the exact date of 1513), discovered in China what was known as “youtiao”, a fried salty dough strip that was served for breakfast and then exported it to the Iberian Peninsula, gave it a star shape that it still retains in some of its modalities and made it sweet. Similarly there is another theory that indicates that it could have been Marco Polo who brought them from China in 1269 to be introduced later by Sephardic cuisine using the fried dough technique. In fact, its Arab origin is also considered probable and there are very similar recipes found in medieval and even Andalusian manuscripts, such as “Hispano-Maghrebi cuisine during the Almohad period ”, dated in the 13th century.
Another story indicates that churros were invented in medieval times by Spanish shepherds from the Castilla y León area who, due to their lack of infrastructure to bake bread in an open field, had to resort to frying a similar dough as a substitute for their main source of carbohydrates. Many stories also frame the origin of their name in this context, since it is often said that they were called churros because of their similarity to the horns of churras sheep, an indigenous breed from those latitudes.
Although there is no consensus here either, since others emphasize that the word churro is much more recent, given that it was introduced in the dictionary of the Royal Academy of the Spanish Language in 1884 as a synonym for cuhombro.
What does seem to be true (or at least it does not present so many dissensions), is that it was the Spanish conquerors who, after their success in the Iberian Peninsula, decided to export churros to the New World. And today their popularity in Latin America is such that many do not hesitate to assure its Mexican origin, although this theory loses consistency if we take into account that the oldest churrería in the country, Churrería El Moro, was founded in 1935 by the Navarrese emigrant Francisco de Elizondo in Mexico City.
It is also true that, as a counterpart, the conquerors brought back chocolate, without which the churros would not be as popular, since it is in that combination where the greatness of this snack lies.