It’s a croissant! It’s a pain au chocolat! No it’s a…xuixo!
My sweet tooth for pastries means I was instantly drawn to an image of a Catalan xuixo. The golden pastry, the sugar coating, the custard filling…stop me before I’m on the next flight to Spain just to try one.
The xuixo (pronounced shoo-shoo) is a viennoiserie pastry that hails from the city of Girona, in the Spanish region of Catalonia. The pastry is filled with crema catalana, which is a custard similar to crème brûlée, but with a name that indicates that it is a regional speciality. It is deep fried and coated in sugar, and is typically consumed for breakfast.
Legend has it that the xuixo was invented by an acrobat from Girona called El Tarlà. He fell for the daughter of a pastry chef, and one day when he was paying her a visit the girl’s father unexpectedly turned up. Tarlà attempted to hide but some flour made him sneeze and the father discovered him. To reconcile with the man, Tarlà vowed to marry his daughter and pass on the recipe for the pastry, which was named after the sound of his sneeze.
There is even a xuixo parade in Girona, during which people walk through the streets and eat xuixos prepared by local chefs upon completion of the procession. This celebration of Girona’s local cuisine shows how important this dish is to its regional identity. Food culture is a central element of Catalans’ identity, as they see local dishes as an expression of their regional sense of self (Anderson).
Xuixos are also enjoyed in other parts of Catalonia, such as at a popular bar called Pinotxo at Barcelona’s Boqueria market. Now all we need to do is find some in Melbourne!
Reference: Catalan Cuisine – Sign of a Nation? by Lara Anderson