Basque Country recipes

flag of the Basque countryflag-of-basque-countryRegion: The Basque Country, Euskadi (Basque), País Vasco (Spanish)

Capital: Bilbao

bilbao-guggenheimThe cuisine of the ancient Basque country is considered by many to be the finest in Spain. The origins of modern Basque country recipes can be traced back to the industrial revolution of the 19th century when the rustic cooking styles of this traditionally poor country, were combined with technical influences from Southern France to create a more sophisticated cuisine. There was a further renaissance after the death of Franco in 1975 and Nueva Cocina Vasca was born; this new movement became synonymous around the world with innovation and experimentation and introduced molecular gastronomy to the world. Food that has been inspired by Basque Country recipes can be found in some of the worlds greatest restaurants.

The region boasts many Michelin-starred restaurants and the top Basque chefs such as Juan Mari Arzak and Martin Berasatsegui, have developed a worldwide reputation for being the pioneers of modern Spanish cooking; it has been said that Basque cuisine is the 'modern art' of the culinary world. The former chef at the world famous El Bulli restaurant near Barcelona, Ferran Adrià, was influenced and inspired by the inventive methods of the modern Basque chefs.

Basque country recipes are not all about fine-dining and molecular gastronomy, however, and tapas-style dining is also very popular in the region. Here, the small finger-sized dishes are known as pintxos and are usually served on a cocktail stick - in a traditional Basque bar you will save up your cocktail sticks so the waiter can work out your bill before you leave. It is usual practice to crawl from bar to bar, experiencing the specialities of each venue, and this habit is known locally as a txikiteo.

la concha beach

The Basques have some of the biggest fishing fleets in Europe and in the northern provinces of Bizcaia and Guipúzcoa, seafood dominates the local menus. Salt cod known as bacalao is an extremely popular staple of Basque country recipes and can be found just about everywhere. A large variety of seafood is served in traditional soups and stews such as Marmitako and other fish and meat are also traditionally cooked in a barbecue-style over hot coals.

Peppers, beans and potatoes - which were introduced to the region after the discovery of the Americas - are extremely popular in Basque country recipes, as are wild mushrooms and as you move further away from the coast and into the Álava province; cured meats, game, snails and freshwater fish become more popular on the local menus.martin berasategui

It is very common practice in the Basque country for groups of men to form gastronomic clubs called txokos where they can gather socially to cook and eat food together away from the family home. These clubs have been in existence for nearly two hundred years and it is only recently that some have opened their doors to women.

Basque-style restaurants and pintxos bars can be found all over Spain and in many countries worldwide where Basque migrant communities have shared the delights of their cuisine.

Basque Country recipes

Melon and manchego salad recipe

Marmitako

Leek and potato soup

Kalimotxo

Banderillas

Hake with almond and saffron sauce

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