BC: Before the Cronut
A few weeks after my first encounter with the Cronut I found myself in the town of Torroella de Montgri in the Emporda region of Spanish Catalunya. As I passed a bakery in the main square I stopped to admire the window display and found myself gazing at another sibling of the Cronut species. The large, fat, spongy looking croissant had clearly been deep fried and then coated with sugar. I wanted it…
I ordered the Xuixo and the lady within the shop carefully packaged the delightful looking pastry. I managed to hold back until I left the shop before tearing away the packaging and scoffing a giant bite. Oooooh, it was wonderful…oozing with custard encased within light buttery croissant. I had every intention of taking a photo of the Xuixo but unfortunately, yet again, the thought only occured to me as i popped the last morsel into my mouth (sorry!). It was outstanding.
As with the Cronut from Edinburgh, the custard filling was inside the dough prior to deep-frying, and the overall flavour was very similar. The Xuixo was much lighter and the ratio of custard to dough was much higher.
It would seem that the origins of the Cronut-style pastry could possibly be attributed to pastry chef Emili Puig from the Corte Real, Girona, Spain during the 1920′s. However, local legend tells of the secret lover of a pastry chef’s daughter (a popular acrobat named el Tarla) who was discovered hiding within a bag of flour, after being betrayed by a sneeze. After marrying the daughter, el Tarla gave the recipe to make the Xuixo (named after the sneeze sounding like Xui-Xui) to the pastry chef. Either way, the Xuixo is commonly eaten for breakfast or tea within Catalonia and has been granted Producte de la Terra (Product of the Home Country) status from the Government of Catalonia.
It would seem that the origins of the first deep-fried pastry filled with custard are uncertain, and like many foods the nomadic wanderings of the world’s poplautions throughout history have most likely contributed to the versions of the pastry we know and love today. One thing is certain though: I am very happy to partake of many more samples until the mystery is solved!!