Are you familiar with Basque Country? Basque Country or Euskal Herria in Basque are known as well as Pays Basque for French people and Pais Vasco for Spanish people. It is located in the western Pyrenees, in the border between France and Spain. Basque is not 100 percent Spanish or France but it is a mixture of both culture which make it more interesting.
I stayed in Anglet for couple of months. It is a small city in the southwest of France which take me only around 1 to 1.5 hours to reach Spain by car. French people who lives in this area has their own culture and food than the French people you will meet in Paris.
They say, the best way to learn a culture is through their food. What is interesting from Basque dishes is we can try both Spain and French food at the same time. So here are the best 10 food from Basque Country you might never know before but I can guarantee you will fall in love at the first time you try it!
Le Gâteau Basque
Le Gâteau Basque (gâteau is a French word for cake) originally comes from Cambo-les-Bains, a spa resort located 5 km from Itxassous, France. It was first made in the 18th century. At the beginning, the travelers had first enjoyed a cake called Bistockak, but the recipe got lost somehow. This Biskot was then transformed into Le Gâteau Basque to people’s liking. Starting in 1994, French people organized an annual La Fête du Gâteau Basque (Festival of Gâteau Basque) and now they even have a museum dedicated to this cake called Le musée du Gâteau Basque in Sare.
Jambon de Bayonne
Jambon is a French word for ham or what Spanish people call Jamon. It means the part of the leg. Traditionally, jambon is a thigh or shoulder of an animal that has been salted and dried or cooked. This special ham is called Jambon de Bayonne because in 1672 they were exported through the port of Bayonne.
While French people eat a lot of sausiccon, Spanish people invented their own saucisson called chorizo. Saucisson and chorizo are basically dry cured sausages that we can find in charcuterie. What makes them different from each other is the paprika sauce that makes chorizo have a spicy flavor which is not common in the charcuterie before 1726. The texture of chorizo is a little bit more chewy than saucisson. People in the Basque love to eat chorizo – they think it’s a good representation of their tasteful personality.
Originally found in Iceland, salted cod has been produced a lot in Basque, thanks to the Vikings and Basques colonists. When they explored Canada and found St. Lawrence River which later was claimed by France, a thousand of Basque boats were fishing for cod and to bring back all the fishes in a good condition to Basque, they put salt on the fish. Until now, salted cod has become one of the specialty signatures in Basque area.
Basque Tapas (Pintxos)
Pintxos is not just a normal tapas. Tapas are originally found in the center of Spain and Pintxos or Basque Tapas are found in the northern part of Spain. Tapas is basically a small portion of dishes but what makes Pintxos special is normally it is served in a small bread based with a toothpick. Other things can be added as its toppings. While tapas has become famous around the world, Pintxos stays local so there is no other way to try it other than visiting the Basque country.
Piperade or what Basque people called Piperrada is a signature Basque dish containing onions, green peppers and tomatoes. It is prepared in a pan or sauté – like how French people called it and it is flavored with a sprinkle of Espelette pepper. It can be served as a main course or as a side dish with addition of baguette and eggs. The ingredients of this dish represent the colors of Basque flag.
Fromage de Brebis
Fromage de Brebis is cheese made from ewe’s milk. Brebis is French word for female sheep or ewe. This cheese is invented in the Pyrenees Atlantiques, a province in the south of France. What makes this cheese interesting is the various tastes and flavors which depend on where the sheep have been grazing, pretty much like the principle of wine.
Cassoulet is a French dish invented in 1355 in Languedoc, a province in southwest France. It is basically baked white beans with meat. Basque people love to eat it with pork sausage. It is indeed a healthy dish because it contains lots of beans that can stimulate your digestion.
Axoa is a traditional dish prepared with mashed veal, onions, tomatoes and Espelette pepper. It is a symbol of the gastronomy of Basque country and typically served during summer. Axoa means chopped in Basque language or what we know as ground beef. The meat is either minced or cut into very small pieces. People also called it the Basque ragout. This dish is one of the comfort foods you will love!
Pâté Basque au Piment d’Espelette
Pâté is a paste which normally contains meat and fat. The original Pâté was invented in 1779 with foie grass as the main ingredients. What makes Pâté Basque different is the use of pork Basque which has a tender meat taste and additional Espelette pepper. Most people eat pâté with baguette as an appetizer.