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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