Article 2: The pintxo as an artform

The Basques are known for their patriotism and traditions. Traditions are also there in the kitchen. Like pintxo’s, the Basque version of the Spanish Tapa, and gourmet txoko which stands for brotherhood. With a few other dishes this provides The Basque a culinary reputation.

The Basque language Euskara is known and is considered one of the oldest European languages, which is not related to the Indo-European language family. There are inscriptions in Basque found, dating from the 3rd century AD. The origin of the Basques and the Basque language is a mystery, although there exists a number of controversial statements.

The language provides at least words, for a lot people very difficult to pronounce. But the  tasty snacks such as pintxo’s is no problem for our mouths. You eat the pintxo together with a glass of txakolina, a young Basque white wine. You can have dinner in a jatetxea (restaurant), but the best Basque snacks can be found in a txoko. (A txoko is primarily a culinary club for men). And with a poteo the Basques mean a tapas tour. A Poteo is a spontaneous, informal meeting of course in combination with a few pintxo’s and wines.  The Basque people are really used to switch bars a lot. You drink one drink in one bar and then go to the next one. They call this ‘Txikiteo’.

The Basque Country is historically not a land of overflow. In the 15th century  a bohemian pilgrim recorded that there was no hay and no straw and no stables for horses and that the inns were bad. In addition, the wine was poured from bags of goat skin and because of the lack of bread they ate meat and fish, mainly fruits.

The industrialization made a big change. People showed their prosperity with an overloaded table. Therefore Basque people can’t get enough of talking about food. The proximity of the sea and mountains provide a rich variety of Basque food. Fish and meat are sometimes served in surprising combinations. But fish will star. This is because the Basques are Spain’s greatest sailors, they have always been. The assortment includes: crayfish, small clams, squid, sea bass, mullet, mullet, sea bream, hake, monkfish, scorpion fish and many more. In the kitchens of the restaurants of San Sebastian, the culinary capital of the Basque Country, the nueva cocina vasca arise. Because how traditional and the nationalistic the Basques are, they are open to innovations in the culinary field. But it remains Basque, though.
A pintxo is the tapa of the Basque cuisine. It is an exquisite bite by some of the chefs nuvea cocina elevated to an art form. The perfect pintxo needs to be excellent in taste and sight and you should be eaten in two small bites. Many pintxos have a small piece of bread or baguette as a bottom, next comes the most important part. They hold it together with a large toothpick. On a lot of pintxo’s they added tasty mayonnaise.
In fish, the anchovy pintxos is the uncrowned king. The marinated silvery fish is a good  basic ingredient that easily combines with the exotic taste of coconut or papaya or what the chef comes up with. Pieces of squid or shrimp and cod topped with crab meat or pate are also favorite. But there are also pintxos with mushrooms and other fungi.

The Basque Country has a long tradition of pintxo’s and there are annually pintxo competitions between cooks, with many prizes to be won. The strong forces of the culinary culture makes that everything has to be off top quality.
Traditionally the Basque cherish their independence, they love their homeland and peasant traditions and have a highly developed associational life. One of

those traditions is to cook together in associations.

These associations are called Txoko’s. . To be admitted, there are no ranks or positions: what counts is passion for good food, enjoy cooking and pay monthly dues. Basque people spend a lot of money on food.

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Los Galerna, funnie and talented

A lot of people who are living in Arrasate listen to rock/punk music and playing in bands. Because I know a few of these people, I have seen really cool concerts here. My first one was from Los Galerna. They are a really cool rock band. The special thing about these guys is that they don’t have vocals. Because the bass guitar player of the band is  the boyfriend of my roommate I recorded their concert for my video project.

The concert was organized by Taupa Taberna. This bar is across my house and we go there a lot. They build a stage outside were a few bands were going to perform. A lot of people showed up to see the bands playing. A lot of the Erasmus students were there as well.

I brought my camera to record the concert and ask a few people what they think about the performance. The only problem was that it was quit dark to record a sharp image. But I tried to make the best of it. A friend of the band really wanted to film as well. So that was really handy for me. He filmed backstage and I could drink a beer:P

I never heard them play before and it was really great! I loved the music they are making, and I am not really the rock kinda girl. My roommate was there as well. She was so proud of her boyfriend, this was really great to see. The rest of my friends liked the music also. The big difference between us and the rest of the people that were there is that we danced a lot. But a lot of other people were just standing there. My roommate explained to me that Basque people are sometimes not so exuberant. So we danced for them as well.

The band did not only made great music but they were also good entertainers. On stage the wore masks. They also had funny dances and talked to the public. We had a lot of fun. So bring the next concert on!

 

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Article 1 : Isolated and earth-based mythologies

The world was cold and flat, there were no mountains, no valleys, no seas, there was no heat, only a cold wind that blew over the grassy plains. Benzozia(the mother dragon) lived beneath the earth. She was a big snake with seven large jaws and fourteen large tusks.

Her sleep was restless. Benzozia repeatedly turned in her sleep, her body pressed against the earth and the earth cracked and split open: where once was lowland, was now a huge mountain range, these were the Pyrenees, the first mountains in the world. Benzozia breathed fire , it came out of the cracks and holes in the earth. The fire spewed out of mountains and valleys, it glided over the earth as luminous burning gas and moisture, it burned the earth and sky. It was hot, and clouds of dust and mist ascended into heaven. The water fell from the sky by Benzozia’s fire. The fire and water were fighting. Fire lost and wherever the water was hissed off new clouds were born. Trees and shrubs began to grow higher and higher. The fire retreated to the earth. Hot gases and liquids came out. The first people, the Basques were born from Benzozia’s fire.

The story about Benzozia is the emergence story of the Basque people .The word “myth” comes from the Greek word mythos, which means a spoken or written story. The purpose of a myth is to explain human experience. Many events in a myth are not realistic, the message communicated by the story is more important than telling about an actual event.

Because a lot of populations have myths, and often myths are associated with religion, the stories have been passed down through the ages to become the basis of a society. The study of mythology provides a way of understanding ancient cultures. The Basque Country, also known as Euskal Herria, is the birthplace of Basque mythology. Basque Country has always been relatively isolated, this is one of the reasons that there are quite a lot of mythology that has been preserved.

Mountain Anboto, People claim to have seen Mari here. Source: Luberri.net

Historically, Basque mythology seems to be less ‘pantheonic’(dedicated to the gods) than a lot of other mythologies There are few actual gods in it, but many spirits and creatures. This seems to be common among ‘chthonic’ mythologies. It means “earth-based.” As opposed to many of other mythologies, where gods live in the heavens or are ghosts of death, Basque mythology is very centered on what’s in front of them, what’s part of their land. Their spirits populate the earth in caves, in forests and in rivers. The sky is a way for them to travel, referred to generally as Osti. The moon is called IIazki, neither good nor evil, but she plays a role in guiding the spirits of the deceased. The highest god in the Basque mythology, is a goddess called Mari. She is friendly and helpful, protecting travelers and herds and giving good council to those who need it. Legends connect her to the weather. The goddess of thunder and wind, she is the personification of the earth, similar to the Greek Gaia. Mari drives a chariot of four white horses across the sky and when she appears, she is a beautiful woman adorned with rainbows.

Mari’s Sorginak.  Source: Wikipedia.com

She does not only appear as a beautiful women but also as a flaming tree, a white cloud, a rainbow, a gust of wind, a bird, a sickle made of fire, moving from one mountain peak to another. She lives underground, normally in a cave in a high mountain(Anboto). Where she and her other half Sugaar meet every Friday in the night of the Akelarre or witch-meeting, to conceive the storms that will bring fertility to the land and the people. Mari is served by a court of sorginak (witches). The Basque Country also has modern myths, created in the 19th century. Because of the suppression of Basque people, that started in that time the story of ‘The tree of Gernika’is an important modern myth. Gernikako Arbola is an oak tree that symbolizes traditional freedoms for the Biscayan people, and by extension for the Basque people as a whole. The swore to respect the Biscayan liberties under it, and the modern Lehendakari(the head of state) of the Basque Country swears his charge there.

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GOAL, GOAL, GOAL

Last Sunday we went to a football match in Bilbao. I was really excited because i wanted to go there for a long time already. Because I work in the EITB and the building is next to the football stadium we always here and see the supporters. The atmosphere in the city is always so amazing. When Bilbao scores we can hear the people shouting and celebrating.

A friend of a another Erasmus student arranged tickets for us. Normally the tickets cost 48 euro’s. And of course that is to much money for us, but we got two free tickets and the rest of the money we splitted. He arranged the tickets because his friend plays in Athletic Bilbao. Very nice all the connections here. :p

So we went. Outside the stadium there were a lot of people. Everybody was dressed in white with red striped shirts. The thing I noticed the first was that there is almost no police on the streets. If there is a football match in Holland the ME team is always stand-by.  I like that a lot.

Before we went in Wilco had to interview a view people for his project. This was great because people like to talk about the love for their club. With a beer in their hand they were singing the Athletic Bilbao song in front of the camera.

Because the tickets we had were not in the same places in the stadium, Wilco and I went in together. We had great seats, three rows from the field. Because there is no roof on the stadium it was really cold, but it seemed that nobody thought this was a big problem.

A lot of people brought their own sandwiches and pipa’s. Everybody was eating them. The women in the line in front of us used it as a stress agent. That was really amusing to look at. We were close to the box were you can find the die-hard fans. They were singing and shouting the whole match.

The reason why we were there was to see the reaction of the people when Athletic would score. And also to jump ourselves! But unfortunately the match wasn’t that exciting. They played without a lot of action and Wilco and I were really afraid that they were not going to score. But in the last minute of the match it happened…. Athletic scored. The crowd was going crazy, and we jumped along. Finally, because it was really cold and we could use some movement. It was great especially because everybody was waiting for the goal such a long time. Eeverybody was shouting ‘GOAL,  GOAL, GOAL’. If the stadium would have a roof it would go off!

After the match we met the other people outside the stadium, luckily we had a car, otherwise we had to leave the stadium earlier to catch the last bus. We had to stand In line in front of the ticket automat but that was oke. The match was great and certainly worth repeating.

 

 

 

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Learning a new language is not that easy

The biggest reason why I really wanted to go to The Basque Country is to learn Spanish. I love the  sound of the language en from a journalistic point of view it is a language that opens a lot of opportunities.

On Windesheim, my school in Holland, they told me that I would get lessons on school. But it didn’t quietly turned out that way. There was no Spanish lesson arranged on the school in Mondragon. Because I was not the only Erasmus student that wanted to learn Spanish we decided to search ourselves.  We told our teacher that we really wanted to learn Spanish and if she knew anybody who could give us lessons. She knew a girl that had finished here school last year but couldn’t find a job. So she was going to ask her if she would like to help us.

Three weeks later we had our first Spanish lesson from Ane. We didn’t know what to expect but the lesson was really good. She had made a power point with material to practice in class and really had prepared a lesson. In the beginning we were with 5 people. After a few weeks another Erasmus student joined us. He is doing another education and arrived later in Mondragon. The lessons were for everybody on convenient  times. On Monday from 4 till 5 and Wednesday from 5 till 6.


The first classes were about how to introduce yourself and stuff like that. It was really fun because everything we learned we could immediately put in practice. After a few lessons it became more difficult. We had to learn verbs and grammar. I never liked that in any language, but it is really important to know this. I was hoping that Spanish was not really hard to learn for me but it didn’t turned out that way. I really have to do my homework and repeat sentences and words a lot to get them in my system.

Luckily the classes are always really fun, we have a lot of fun together. If we want to learn something specific we tell Ane and she would prepare a lesson about that subject. unfortunately I am not going to learn Spanish fluently here. When I came here I hoped that, but learning a new language is not that easy. But at the end of this period I hope to control a little bit of the basics. After that begins the real challenge, to continue speaking and learning Spanish when I am back in The Netherlands. But where there is a will there is a way!

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French breakfast and clotheslines in Biarritz

I really wanted to go to Biarritz, my boyfriend told me that it is a beautiful place and he is not the only one who said that. So last Friday was the day. Linsey, Karen and me decided to meet each other at the bus station in Mondragon at 7.30. Yes that is really early!

And that was exactly what Karen’s alarm was thinking. It didn’t go off and Karen was too late. Linsey and I took the bus to Donosti and from there to Biarritz. We arrived at 10 o’clock. In the morning there was a thick pack of clouds hanging in the air. We really wanted to see Biarritz with sun so this was a pity.

But when we arrived at the beach, we saw a large blue strip that was  pushing the clouds away. We decided to have breakfast on the beach and during the meal the sky turned totally blue and the sun showed himself.

After the great ,real French,  breakfast we went for a walk along the shore. It was really amazing, it was so warm that we had breaks in between to cool down.  Early in the afternoon we got a text message from Karen, she really wanted to come and that she will arrive in Biarritz at 4. This was great news!

We decided to chill on the beach for a bit till Karen arrived.  There were a lot of surfers in the water and the waves were high, so enough to see.  In two days I have my second surfing lesson so it was even more interesting.  I watched closely how everybody jumped on his board. But these guys made it look like something really easy.

We both fell asleep when a women was shouting really hard. I opened my eyes and saw a big wave coming in our direction. We were standing just in time to keep our clothes dry. But Linsey’s jackets were totally sopping wet, like my bag. After the wave I looked at the beach again and saw that my phone was still laying on the beach. It was totally wet and covered in sand. This was not so nice but we were laughing like crazy. We realized that it could be so much worse if we didn’t heard the women shouting at us.

Because it was almost time to pick up Karen from the bus station, we walked there and made a clothesline, to let our clothes dry. This was pretty funny because people were looking at us in a strange way.’ What are these girls doing?’ When Karen arrived we went walking along the shore again. It looked really romantic because the sun was about to go under. We decided to have dinner in a cute beach pavilion. I really felt like I was one holiday.

After dinner we realized that we only had 20 minutes left to catch the last bus home, and we were far away from the bus stop. So we ran like crazy… We arrived on time at the bus stop only we were standing at the wrong place. (What we didn’t know) We decided to check if the bus was really leaving from here and it turned out it didn’t. The good bus was standing on the other site of the bus station. So we were running again, but we made it! One thing  is for sure, I am definitely coming back to Biarritz. Maybe if I am good enough, to surf!!!

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“I can’t feel my hands and feet anymore, but I was standing on my board today!”

“My hands and feet are so cold that I can’t feel them at all, but I was standing on my board today!”, was my first reaction when I came out of the water this Sunday. Together with ten other Erasmus students I went surfing in Zarautz.

Two people were making pictures of us that day. This was really great of them because we weren’t able to make the pictures ourselves. By bus we went from Mondagon to Zarautz. The weather was not great at all. It was raining and windy and we all looked at each other like ‘are we really going to do this’?

In the surfing school                                               Still warm and dry

When we arrived in the surfing school the first challenge was the wetsuit. Because it was the first time surfing for everybody we laughed a lot. The suits are not easy to put on and of course very  tight so everybody was laughing a lot at each other.  When finally everybody had his suit on and his board we went to the beach. Funny thing was that all the guys had pink boards and the girls had blue ones.

We had to carry our own boards and this maybe sounds easy but it was not for everyone. The board was too big or my arm to small, either way I couldn’t carry it in a normal way. Luckily I was not the only one and like real amateurs we dragged our boards to the beach.

Our photographers

At the beach everybody was getting a little nervous, the waves were really close now and the first time on a surfboard is just exciting. After the teacher told us everything we needed to know to go in to the water safely we went in. The first 5 minutes it was cold after that I just simply forgot my hands and feet. The waves were very different than the  last time I went surfing. They were smaller but faster after each other, this way it was difficult finding a good wave. What happened was ,that I took a wave and jumped on my board and suddenly there was no wave anymore so I was just floating and fell of my board. And sometimes it was raining so hard that you couldn’t see clearly.

Dry practice                                                            Me on the board

After the session I was almost running back to the surfing school because inside the water was way warmer than outside the water. Most of the people loved to surf. Victoria decided for herself  that surfing is for guys. We went for a nice warm cup of coffee after everybody was dressed again.

What I think about surfing? I can only say that it is really shitty that it is winter right now and that it really starting to get too cold to go surfing. Otherwise I would practice the whole period I am here…!!

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