Food spotlight: Basque in one of the world’s most fascinating cultures



The Basque people, who live in a semi-autonomous region of northern Spain as well as in southwestern France, are believed to be the direct descendants of farmers who settled in the area some 35,000 years ago, making them perhaps the oldest ethnic community in Europe. Their language, called Euskara, is unrelated to any other language in the world.

While its cuisine has been influenced by neighboring French and Spanish dishes, Basque food is a unique mix of seafood and fish especially salt cod as well as cured ham and other meats, and the region is host to some of the best restaurants in the world. Among the most iconic Basque foods and dishes (and our favorites) are:

  • Marmitako: A hearty fish stew made from potatoes, onions, peppers and tomatoes, marmitako which means “from the pot” was originally eaten on fishing boats along the coast.
  • Gateau Basque: Called Etxeko biskotxa in Basque, this traditional dessert is made from layers of wheat flour cake and filled with vanilla cream, almonds or cherries.
  • Jambon de Bayonne: Taking its name from the port city of Bayonne in southern France, this ham is cured for seven to ten months. It’s slightly sweet and has a chewy texture.
  • Gerezi beltza arno gorriakin: This one-of-a-kind cherry soup is served warm or cold. The cherries are poached in wine with sugar and served with sour cream or even ice cream.
  • Fish soup: This hearty soup is made from onions, garlic, tomatoes, celery, parsley, white wine and thyme. Local fish, squid or shrimp are then added.
  • Pintxos (the “tx” in Basque is pronounced like “ch”) are the Basque equivalent of Spanish tapas or finger food snacks and usually consist of small slices of bread topped with ingredients like cod, anchovy, peppers or potatoes and fastened with a toothpick.

Have you ever tried Basque food? Here and here are a couple of delicious and simple-to-prepare recipes. And please share your thoughts with the Shop Talk Blog community forum!




Did you know: Bilbao’s Guggenheim

The Basque Country’s largest city, Bilbao, has seen a cultural renaissance in recent years, thanks in large part to the iconic Guggenheim Museum, which opened there in 1997.


55 thoughts on “Food spotlight: Basque in one of the world’s most fascinating cultures

  1. Im new to phoenix so really havent had a chance to try the restaurants out here. Im the type of guy that reads cook books and plant magazines rather than sports magazines. Owned two restaurants for 18 years, so anything to do with cooking I love to try. In fact I collect menus when I go out. Thanks for the info. Charles

  2. The Basque food dishes or pots sounds full of bold flovors, like a fish combo.
    I love trying new tastes.. I am going to try to fine these recipes on line as well..

  3. I think the recipes that you provided sounds good and could be tasty and healthy for you.I might try the fish recipe and the chest dessert one.Thanks for the info and more receipts please

  4. Some of the food sound like I would try it. There are no Basque food place I know of in the western New York area.

  5. After reading all of this; all of the food sounds soooooo delicious! My mouth is literally watering right now! These are all dishes that I would LOVE to try~ If only I would be lucky enough to travel there. I think I will use the internet to look up many of these dishes and hopefully I can have a hand at trying to cook them at home for my family. We love Spanish, Latin and even Argentinian food. Would love to try Basque as well. Yummmmm!

  6. There is a Bask community in Bakersfield, Ca. They have a small restaurant and whenever I,am in the area I,make it a point to go there. Good food. Great people.

  7. I am not very familiar with Basque cuisine, but I am always interested in trying new foods and experiencing new cultures and styles.

  8. The Santa Fe Basque Restaurant and hotel is amazing. It is in Fresno, CA. They do have long tables to eat and that has never bothered us. Their house wine and spumoni ice cream are both wonderful assets to the meal.

  9. I live in Reno, NV and there are 2 Basque Restaurants here worth mentioning.
    Louis’ Basque Corner and Santa Fe Hotel

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