Friday, October 5, 2012

"Los vascos viven para comer, no comen para vivir"

That is, " The Basques live to eat, not eat to live."

My host family isn't Basque but they do love good food. I don't see how you couldn't, living here in the Basque Country.

A lot of my stressed out nights this week were made so much better by dinner with the family. My family here is full of warm, happy people and they just make a lot of things better. I got so lucky with my family.

My host mom is also a fantastic cook. Last night we had a healthier dish that's pretty standard fare here in this house: pasta salad with cheese, tomato and tuna, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. The night before we had tortilla de patata. And the night before that we had anchoas. It's Friday so were having fish. My host mom knows I love seafood. Especially since its so fresh here.

An observation about shopping for food: supermarkets are where you buy packaged foods (such as cartons of gazpacho) and packaged milk (no fresh milk here, it's all TetraPak), your everyday wine/beer (liquor stores are only if you want something for a special occasion or a gift) and your household goods (toothpaste, shampoo, razors, etc). You buy bread everyday from the baker, meat from a butcher, fish from a fish market, cheese from a cheese shop and fruits and vegetables from a fruteria. There are several in every neighborhood so you don't have to go far to do your shopping. My host mom takes a pull cart basket thing with her and she goes to the bakery, butcher shop and fruteria in our plaza and the across the street to Super Amara and the fish market. And my host mom is like a celebrity, everyone knows her and her life story. But that's kind of all the customers. Everyone's neighbors and they've all been shopping at these stores for years.

A bit different from the US no?

People also have their regular bars where they have a drink before going home and it's often right by home. For pintxos my family goes to this place across the street. For just drinks there's a bar in our plaza with open air seating.

I'm really enjoying the different lifestyle. And the food.

I definitely liked Spanish food back in the US and I can even cook some Spanish dishes but its hard to compare to the real thing. The ingredients just aren't the same. Take chorizo for example. We have chorizo in the US but it's more likely to be Mexican than Spanish and Spanish chorizo is really different. It's flavorful but not spicy. It's very smoothe and easy to eat. It isn't full of fat and it smells so good. It can be eaten as a snack with red wine. In fact, that's often offered as a pintxo here.

Cheeses here are also fantastic. Here in Sanse we're 20km from the French border so we get Spanish, Basque and French cheeses. Also, Dutch and Swiss cheeses can be bought (in the supermarket) so we get a lot of variety. Since we have a package of membrillo (the apple jelly thing we've been having for dessert), we've been having it with cheese and wine for dessert every night.

Food lover's paradise right here. And the nice thing is that with a lot of walking, the good food doesn't go to your hips. America take note.

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