The foundations of Basque cuisine date back to a tradition that goes back 5 centuries and is a complete castle and treasure called “etxekoandres” made up of housewives, mothers, grandmothers. The Basque people have a lot of confidence in the kitchen, they see themselves as the owner of rich and diverse gastronomy, but ironically, most of these glories came from America and continue to come because most of the ingredients used come from there.

These materials what it is today without “beans from Tolosa” what “Guernica peppers” what “hot peppers from Ibarra” we could talk about; even the “marmitako” (bonito fish, potatoes and vegetable stew) and “Portugal also” (leek and potato, sometimes food that contains mackerel) of Mexican food like tacos and his famous parties at symbolised wouldn’t be a distant relative of cornbread, which is kind of a “talo” they were to eat. The combination of deep-rooted tradition and fusion cuisine was once again proved by the great revolution of the late 1970s by Juan Mari Arzak (Arzak restaurant), Pedro Subijana (Akelarre) and other leaders of the so-called “New Basque cuisine”, who added exotic ingredients, sources and techniques of French nouvelle cuisine to the local tradition. The Basque has looked outside its borders this time to find its foundations and continue to evolve and take this development to an international dimension.

Fusion is based on the adoption of new rules, constant collaboration and work, a rich cuisine that seems limitless because it can satisfy even the toughest palates with its extensive use of land-dwelling wild animals and farm animals and a variety of seafood scales. Orchard, farm, mycology, hunting and fishing that bring diversity to tables in all seasons; Basque chefs are so lucky that they need nothing but simplicity to achieve decades of Excellence, a small touch is enough for them to achieve commendable flavours, aromas and textures. As Pedro Arregi said as he stood in front of Elkano (Getaria)’s Grill, “take the best and don’t ruin it.”

The grill is indeed a very big element and tool for Basque gastronomy. So much so that Juan Sebastián Elcano of Guipuzco, the first person to circumnavigate the world, even mentioned him in his will. Bittor Arginzoniz, the best chef on the list of the 50 Best Restaurants in the world, is a grill master who tries different kinds of wood to give everything that touches fire a different aroma.

From “Txokol” to laboratories

The cult of the product has been the first order of basque cuisine. Basque is known to wash off the shores of the Cantabrian Sea and its fishermen formerly had no reservations about chasing whales to the new continent or keeping tuna in the Pacific Ocean today. From Ephesus to business agreements, everything is celebrated around a table, toasts full of good wine are enjoyed by tastes with different flavours; All the efforts to obtain the best ingredients and satisfy gluttony and knowledge are all in the land where eating food, where hedonism reigns freely, where men organize “txoko”s and gastronomic communities to share their food pleasure, is almost a religion.

This is where Basque cuisine comes from. Looking at the history books, it can be seen that 4 sauces (Vizcaina, Pil pil, Verde and Negra derived from squid ink ) used throughout the world come out of this kitchen. And today prominent Basque Chiefs (Bittor Arginzoniz, Andoni Luis Aduriz, Eneko Atxa, Aitor Arregi, Josean Alija, Martín Berasategui, Helena Arzak…) continue their revolution by combining laboratory work, research (R&D) experiments and love for their roots. So they can use the environment and nature in their food, put it into intelligent action, and reinterpret traditional recipes with the most symbolic ingredients of modernity.

I think Alija (Nerua restaurant) said the flavour is the texture of tradition and innovation. He’s not wrong. Combining the two, just as it is done, is the right way for gastronomy to progress.

Written by Spanish Journalist Igor Cubillo



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