I suppose I should give full disclosure right up front: I’m Basque by heritage (well, with some Italian and Croatian thrown in for good “even tempered” measure). I’ve been to the Basque country, for my honeymoon(!), and I have two things I’d like to share.
1. In the “Bonne Idée” when DG writes that this comes from “the land of ham”? She ain’t kiddin’. I was dying for some chicken by the time we finished traveling around that part of Spain and France (and northern Portugal too, for that matter). Talk about a departure from Mediterranean cuisine! It was good and all, but at times I felt like I was the guy from Forrest Gump: pork/ham sandwiches, pork/ham po’ boys, braised pork, pork bacon, pork lardons, pork prosciutto, etc. In retrospect, that trip may have been why I didn’t really cook pork for a year or so, other than bacon (of course).
2. One of my favorite stories to tell is about our arrival into the Basque country at our hotel in San Sebastian. We have been flying for many hours, from the Western US to Madrid, via NY, and then on to Bilbao where we picked up our rental car. I’ll add here that we got a super deal and paid only 400 dollars per ticket. Yes, that’s right. 400 per ticket, including taxes, because of a constellation of reasons (just after 9/11 and an airline decided to go international to the US right then). Anyway, we drove the hour or so to San Sebastian and headed up to our hotel overlooking the bay and the entire city. It was one of our splurge nights and I had requested for there to be a bottle of sparkling wine in our room. Apparently, we arrived a bit earlier than they expected, even though it was already 5 pm local time. This rather austere looking woman was speaking to my husband, who’s fluent in Spanish (and I mean fluent–not that “I can get around” type of fluent), and she asks what type of sparkling we’d like: a champagne or a cava. My partner in life told her that, since we were in Spain, it would be fitting to have a Spanish wine. As we are both grinning the now severe-looking woman replied, “You are not in Spain. You are in the Basque Country.” Whoops! That’s the way to endear yourself to the locals! It’s likely a better story in person, but you get the picture. It was awkward.
There it is. Also, these are some of my people and I’m super excited to see that I can order the cerises noires online! Now I can make the cookbook’s Gateau Basque and not worry that I’m using my one and only jar that I got from France.
|It also stuck to the pan a bit! Probably because I used the wrong pan.|