The barquillo is a crunchy rolled wafer pastry that originated from Madrid. The barquillos are made from various ingredients including butter; egg whites, sugar, and flour thinly rolled out and shaped into a cone or hollow cylinder. It’s often sold by street vendors locally referred to as the barquilleros. A barquillero carry’s the unique red roulette tin. The remarkable waffle roulette was introduced to the Philippines and South American during colonial times. Barquillos are largely considered to be a type of Christmas cookie in Spain. They are highly popular during different fiestas. It was over the years spread to other countries and now is quite popular in the Southeast Asian countries.
History Of The Barquillos
‘Barquillo’ is a Spanish name meaning ‘little boat’. The term is derived from the tradition of heating biscuits in boat-shaped moulds or convex. Also, barquillos are known by different names. For example, in English, they are known by different names including the love letter, crisp biscuit roll, egg roll, crispy biscuit roll, cookie roll, and the biscuit roll.
The barquillero usually carry the unique red tin commonly known as a ruleta de barquillero, with a roulette spinner. Buying the barquillos essentially involve playing the game of roulette where the customer pays the barquillero to spin the roulette wheel. Based on where the ticker will land, the customer can have one or more waffles at the same price. Also, the buyer can pay a bigger amount of money to continue playing and getting more barquillos until the ticker lands on one of the 4 golden markers.
Traditionally, the barquillos were consumed plain, but today; they can be flavored with ingredients including lemon juice, grated coconut, cinnamon, and vanilla. Also, the barquillos can be coated or dipped in milk chocolate or have a chocolate center. Because of the many similarities, it shares with ice cream cones; the barquillos are also sold as containers for frozen treats.
Similar recipes of the barquillos are also found in other countries in Europe such as Krumkake of Norway, pirouettes of France, and parizske pecivo of Czechoslovakia. On the other hand, the flat versions go by the names pizzelle in Italy, goro in Norway, waffle in Poland, among others.
For many years, many street vendors have walked the streets of Madrid selling this ridiculous waffle roulette. A barquillo is a waffle-like dough that’s pressed flat in a checked pattern, thereafter rolled into cones or tubes. As mentioned earlier, it’s the seller’s sales ritual that makes this treat more unique than its counterparts.
If you meet with a barquillero, they will take the big tin from their back and ask you to play the roulette game where you spin the wheel and wait for the ‘ball’ to land on a specific slot. The amount you pay depends on the number of times you wish to play and how many barquillos you expect to win.
The barquillero tradition nearly became extinct during the leadership of Francisco Franco, who was a dictator. Fortunately, a few families like Canas withstand the agony and have for many years carried on the legacy. Currently, there are a few shops in Madrid that still sell this great treat. Just take a walk on the streets of Madrid on a weekend and you’ll find barquillos roaming the parks and plazas with baskets and roulette tins under their arms and on their backs respectively.
In 2021, you’ll find many varieties of barquillos with ingredients like vanilla or cinnamon and coated with chocolate and other special flavors. The Retiro Park, el rastro market, or plaza mayor are some of the places where you can find a barquillero.
How To Make The Barquillos
The rolled cookie commonly known as a barquillo is one of the many Spanish treats that have been adopted in different parts of the world. This treat is prepared by pouring the butter in a hot iron plate similar to cooking a lumpia wrapper or pancakes. Skilful hands are needed to properly roll the barquillo in a wooden pin.
The ingredients you need to make the barquillo include 6 egg yolks, sugar, a cup of milk, 1 lemon (rind), and ¼ cup of sifted flour.
All you have to do is lightly stir the beaten egg yolks into the milk and then add flour and mix. Add powdered rind and sugar. You should then grease both sides of the wafer iron and heat over medium heat. Pour one tablespoon of batter in the hot iron and press the iron plates. Continue heating both sides of the iron until the wafer turns brown. Finally, use the greased cone to shape the barquillos.
One of the main challenges that the barquillero are facing today is the time-consuming and expensive production process and the low prices for people who don’t want to try their luck with the game. Today, the £0.6 per piece, which means the barqulleros have to work for long hours to earn a living from their business. For instance, some of the barquilleros have previously said that they have to work for over 12 hours to make and sell 400 barquillos, mainly because they can’t afford the expensive machines used for commercial production and have to make the barquillos by hand. Not to mention they have to spend the entire day selling them along the beaches or streets.
Unfortunately, the covid-19 crisis seems to have added more strain to the barquillero already struggling business. With the stay-at-home lockdown orders, people are being forced to stay at home, which means there are no people on the streets or beaches to sell to. Many barquilleros are afraid that if these lockdowns aren’t lifted soon, they won’t be able to remain in the business.
Vincent, J. (n.d.). Barquillos: Spain’s unique street food roulette. BBCpage. https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20201021-barquillos-spains-unique-street-food-roulette
Dominguez, J. A., & Rodriguez, E. (2020, November 22). Madrid’s flea market, el Rastro, shrinks a little for reopening. U.S. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-spain-street-marke/madrids-flea-market-el-rastro-shrinks-a-little-for-reopening-idUSKBN2820J2