FOOD!! Our own Religion. I mean real food, slow cooking dishes, fresh products, time consuming recipes…To start from the top, the Basque Country is the area in the world with the highest number of Michelin stars per head. Guess you didn´t know that? And not at sky high French prices…although quite expensive, that is true.
Things are changing quickly, but we still like a lengthy meal, with friends, family or even at business meetings. Lunch is two main courses, and dessert, which is fruit in many cases. We love fruit and vegetables and fish. We like to go out on bar crawls, but usually have some pintxos to calm our stomachs down and lessen the alcoholic effect of “zuritos” (small glasses of beer) or wine. Bars are places to socialize, not to get drunk. You may be surprised by the enormous number of bars in the Basque Country and all over Spain…our “churches” and social clubs. There´s not a high level of alcoholics and you´ll hardly see anyone drunk (well, except maybe youngsters and that´s a problem)…it´s not socially accepted. Kids get used to this way of life since they are babies (although recent laws have forbidden the entrance of minors to bars in Spain-not really enforced). There are food contests everywhere (cheese, beans, paella, cod, meat,…) and being the winner is a huge honour. Men are great cooks and most contestants are male. TV cooking programs are widely popular.
One funny thing is that you will hardly find chicken or pasta in a standard restaurant (except for the Daily Menu), considered “not good enough” food.
Although frozen and packed meals are on the rise, Basques feel fiercely proud of their food and it´s a part of our culture that will survive, no doubt.