Bienvenidos y welcome to Mastication Monologues! If you’re reading this, you’ve finally reached the end of my throwback Europe series. We’re touching down in the heart of the Iberian peninsula in the ageless city of Madrid.
Home to the Spanish government and monarchy, Madrid is the imposing and more regal version of Spain’s more laid back second city, Barcelona. Everywhere my friend Kevin and I turned, we were confronted with another piece of history. Royal palace? Check. El Prado Art Museum? Check. El Parque de Buen Retiro? Double check. I especially enjoyed the park because it offered a bit of relaxation in a city that is mostly business-minded. Not only are there plenty of open lawns and large trees, but the main fountain in the middle of the park was the best because you can rent rowboats for an hourly fee. It was nice to just sit on a bench and take in the more leisurely pace of life in Spain where families were out on paseos (after meal walks) and the old timers were arguing about the superiority of Los Colchoneros vs Los Merengues over some coffee. One of the best places outside of the city that I’d recommend visiting is El Escorial. It was commissioned by Felipe II to be a royal palace and a symbol of Catholic strength in the face of the rising wave of Protestantism. The palace’s design is particularly interesting since it was designed with a grid floor plan to pay homage to the red hot griddle that Saint Lawrence was burned to death on. From the halls gilded with gold mined from New World mines to the exquisitely carved statues in the Court of Kings, it was a royal palace without equal. While I did try some delicious tapas throughout my stay in the city, the star of the food show took the form of churros at Chocolatería San Ginés located at Pasadizo de San Gines, 5, 28013, Madrid.What are churros? Churros are basically pieces of fried dough that are often long and thin. From there, chefs have given their own twist on them which have included: plain, coated with cinnamon-sugar, coated in chocolate, coated in chocolate and filled with caramel, or coated in chocolate and filled with custard. At Chocolatería San Ginés the churros are served plain with a cup of chocolate on the side for dipping. This churro shop has been open since 1894, and it has been a favorite hangout for night owls and club goers who want something sweet and greasy to fill them up before going home. I just stumbled upon it through pure chance during a normal night after dinner, and I never forgot the first time I bit into one of the golden wands of magical fried dough. They were substantial, light, and fresh out of the fryer. I could have eaten them without the chocolate due to their subtle buttery base common to many fried dough treats, but the warm melted milk chocolate took this dessert to another level. I was communing with San Lorenzo, San Gines, and the rest of the culinary saints by the end of the heavenly plate. It was a perfect end to my visit to the Spanish capital, and a heavenly denouement to this throwback series. I hope you enjoyed reading this European adventure as much as I had writing it.