Cuisine, gastronomy and drinks Basque Country and Béarn

Cuisine, gastronomy and drinks Basque Country and Béarn

Basque cuisine

There is not 1, but 2 Basque kitchens: the cookedlamb and pork, and coast cuisine, area of ​​fishermen.

Let us also add that there is a third, in the South, the South (the Spanish Basque Country), which is called, as in all of Spain, the “new Basque cuisine”, more generous than the French.

Cooking a la plancha (planxa)

The secret of Basque cuisine! Everything lends itself to it: cuttlefish, tuna belly, squid, mussels, hake, prawns, prime rib, eggplant, tomatoes, piquillos or mushrooms ... A steel, cast iron or stainless steel plate, heated to very high temperature, allows to instantly sear foods which thus retain all their juice, all their flavor. 

The cuisine of the coast

She mainly uses, of course, fish and seafood with, in the spotlight, squid, anchovy, tuna, cod, hake or spider crab. Some products come from the neighborhood: the mussels of Galicia and Arcachon oysters. The prawns (large prawns) come, for their part, rather from Huelva (Andalusia) ... or tropical seas.

The fish from the Bay of Biscay is a cold sea fish.

Even sold directly by fishermen in the port, fish remains an expensive product.

Choose according to the seasons

- Anchovies and sardines are abundant from the end of April to Sea bream is abundant at Hake get caught The squid (or squid, or squid) is abundant from late May to Among river fish. pibales (eel fry or elvers) are captured when they come upstream from the rivers, from November to March. It is a traditional Christmas dish in Hegoalde.

Interior kitchen

- The Basques use the porc, but not just any: you need a magpie pig (pink and black) from the Iberian ham (Iberian pig ham, the famous pata negra, fabulous but expensive). The acorn-fed Iberian ham, even better than the previous one (and overpriced), means that the pig, in addition to being of Iberian breed, was raised in the wild, feeding exclusively on acorns. There are several denominations of bellota, the most famous being that of Jabugo (in Andalusia).
The sausage is often served confit and very cooked. The traditional Basque sausage (chistorra) is thin, dry and quite spicy.

- Lamb is most often served grilled, except in the case of txillindron, where it is simmered for a long time in its chili sauce. Mutton is widely used, especially to make small sausages (tripoxa) cooked with tomatoes. One of the flagship dishes of the region (at least in the North and Béarn) remains the lamb sweetbread fricassee.

- The veal is, with the chili d & rsquo The b & oelig Snails are a spec The bold-doubles (in Spanish, callos) are a traditional dish from the Basque Country. They differ from classic tripe by the abundance of spices used (more than 10, including the famous Espelette pepper) and by the cooking time.

- The pigeon is eaten in rônovembre) and in salmis (stew) all year round. We do not recommend consuming them: most salmis served outside hunting zones and periods come from Eastern countries, where an anarchic hunting destroys the populations of these birds.

- Duck : it is mainly found in the garbure. You will not be able to escape it, this Béarn soup is served as a starter in (almost) all restaurants. Duck confit, green cabbage, potatoes and smoked breast are the basic ingredients. The magret is also often present in the menus of the North of Basque Pats.

Bayonne ham

Since 1999, Bayonne ham has been protected by a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). However, it is difficult to be convinced by the criteria for awarding this IGP. The hams which have satisfied the specifications will be marked with a Basque cross and the word “Bayonne”, but the legislation allows for funny things.

- If you go to Bayonne at Easter, you will attend the ham fair which has been held there for 5 centuries, a major farm ham competition.

Fruits and vegetables

- Espelette pepper, se The piperade is a me Porcini mushrooms can only be fresh in the fall, which does not preclude seeing them on maps all year round. Preserves are acceptable if they are local mushrooms and not imported porcini mushrooms: prefer artisanal producers.

Cheeses, dairy products and pastries

- Sheep's curd yogurts are called mamia in Basque. It's delicious with a little honey or black cherry jam.

- The only Basque cheese is goat cheese made from mostly raw milk called ardi gasna, “sheep's cheese”.
Prefer producers to resellers. In the markets, stalls offer multiple choices.

- The taloas are pancakes of mixed flour (50% wheat, 50% corn), traditionally served with eggs and belly.

- Finally, the Basque cake, traditionally filled with pastry cream or black cherry jam, or even chocolate.


It arrived from Mexico to Spain at the beginning of the XNUMXth century. In Bayonne, Biarritz, but also in Donostia - San Sebastián or Cambo, the tradition continues. There is even a very serious Chocolate Academy in Bayonne, and a guild of chocolate makers!

New Basque cuisine, in the Spanish Basque country

The phenomenon of “new Basque cuisine” is a recurring theme for gastronomic chroniclers of the Iberian Peninsula. These are traditional recipes where the best possible products are reworked with new ingredients that modify them slightly but without changing the substance. It is particularly developing in Donostia - San Sebastián and its close surroundings.


Basque cider (sagarno)

The ancestor of Basque drinks is cider. Basque cider (sagarnoa) - which is actually a kind of apple wine - is quite green and a bit astringent (not to say sour), but very refreshing. It is a mixture of sour apples, sweet apples and bitter apples. In the XNUMXth century, it was used by Basque sailors to fight against scurvy. According to tradition, cider is drunk in cider houses at the end of winter.

A real cider house is a somewhat magical place, full of people and noise, where you can drink at will, especially during the txotx, a typical ceremony during which we come to taste the new cider. Txotx indicates the small piece of wood which blocked the opening of the barrel, which was removed with the cry of Mojon! (“It's wet!”); then we stood in single file to intercept the jet; today, it is instead replaced by a tap.

On the side, we eat simple and substantial dishes: cod omelet, line hake, prime rib, sheep cheese ...


Regarding wine (arnoa), 4 major wine appellations share the cake.

- L'irouléNavarre.

- JurançSainte-Marie and Pau. Dry or soft, the choice is yours!

- AtPyréJacques.

C & rsquoBilh, which produces dry or soft whites: the pacherenc-du-vic-bilh, appreciated by amateurs and which has nothing to envy to Sauternes (for the softness).

  • See the idea of ​​Vic-Bilh and Madiran

Liqueurs and alcohols

The country's favorite liquor is not Izarra but patxaran, maceration of sloes in anise alcohol. The production of wild sloes has not kept pace with that of the liqueur, and there is a lot of patxaran made with imported aromatic essence. Drink only the bottles where you can see the pupils.

La apple is a green apple alcohol.


The Basques also drink a lot of beer, it is even the most common drink.
As long as you whistle a foam, you might as well try the local ones, starting with one of the most common, Eki.

Many craft beers on the North side, often excellent: Akerbeltz in Ascain, Belhara in Bayonne, Parlementia in Guéthary, Bob's Beer in Hasparren or Arrobio in Espelette.

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