Monday, August 21, 2006

Basque cuisine

A Helpful Hint from the Homestyle Kitchen of Helmut: Basque food is delicious and impressive and often simple to make. Take the refinedness of French haute-cuisine, the freshness and earthiness of French and Spanish country cooking, the spices of Spanish cuisine, robust red wines, and throw in several dashes of originality, and you get Basque cuisine. I received a book some time ago by the California-based chef, Gerald Hirigoyen, titled The Basque Kitchen. I've made several dishes from it, experimented a bit with them, and have made very nice discoveries along the way.

It's also a cuisine that has politics. One, apparently, that seeks "a peace that is not as ephemeral as... red cabbage gelatin with liquefied chard."

Euskal Blog excerpts a rather ridiculous story from the LA Times that intertwines the politics and food of the Basque country (mostly the politics). Go for the food.
The Basque Country was always an incongruous place for revolution. Its gently rolling hills, quaint fishing villages and spectacular sea views belie deep-seated political and ethnic anger. It is one of Spain's most prosperous areas, a place of unique gourmet cuisine, but one where the intelligentsia need bodyguards, where bombs go off at universities, and where outlawed rebel partisans give news conferences in fashionable hotels...

Berasategui, a stocky man dressed in chef's whites, yearns for a peace that is not as ephemeral as his red cabbage gelatin with liquefied chard...

Berasategui and the other chefs were questioned in late 2004 by judicial officials in Madrid about whether they had paid ETA to leave their restaurants alone. Spanish authorities maintain that extortion was ETA's most lucrative source of income, along with kidnappings. Up to a billion dollars may have been collected over the years, used to finance attacks, support fugitives and aid prisoners...

"In the Basque Country, before we learn to walk, we learn to cook," he said, with a rare smile.

"We are a country with spark, living historic moments. If all sides would just leave us alone."


flaco delgado said...

How prescient of you. I've been meaning to ask for the name of that cookbook. I can attest to the peaceful tranquility and yumminess of dishes made by Helmut from said cookbook. I can't attest to the need for people to "personally attest" to things since they don't feel the need to "personally swear" or "lie." (Sorry, an Andy Rooney moment, or was it a George Carlin moment?)

That first paragraph of the newspaper article is monumentally gasbaggy and inane.

helmut said...

Whoa, there, Flaco. You lost me on the attest bit. Now that could either be George Carlin or dotty old Andy Rooney.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'm a native Basque and live in the Basque Country. I'm an intelligent person (like the rest of my family) and don´t need bodyguards.
I know hundreds of people here but none of them got bodyguards. Only a few spanish politicians need them. In every conflict we'd hae to watch the origin of the violence, not only the reactions.

Basque cuisine is superb, like many other traditional cooking in Europe (and the other continents). If you know a man surnamed "Hirigoyen", you know a part of us :)

Greetings from this little piece of Pyrenees and sea.