Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover’s Paradise to give it its full title is a fascinating book – a charming combination of a travel book and a cookery book. It has been written by Marti Buckley an American who fell in love with the Basque region of Spain and has lived in San Sebastián for eight years.
I can empathise with her falling in love with that northern corner of Spain which abuts on to southern France. With its miles of coastline, forests and mountains as well as some fascinating cities – think San Sebastian and Bilbao – it’s a great place to visit; and not only for its lovely scenery – the food is delicious too, claiming more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than any other region in the world.
Whilst I most certainly enjoy luscious sauces I also appreciate dishes where the individual ingredients speak for themselves – fresh, good quality and simply cooked is the essence of so much of Basque cooking.
The Basques certainly know how to eat well, wherever they are. They delight in pintxo – those deliciously tasty and tiny dishes served in bars and enjoyed with a glass of something.
Their history, as told by Marti is fascinating and she has some tasty-looking recipes for home cooks to try out too.
Recipes and information about the seven Basque regions
The recipes are tidily divided into sections – pintxos, soups, fish and shellfish, vegetables and meat, sweets and drinks. Each of the seven Basque regions has its own section too featuring its history, customs and local produce.
Unfortunately difficulties obtaining many of the ingredients will prevent us from trying a number of the recipes but we will be eating our way through the Sweet section – the yogurt cake, apple tart, rice pudding, Bilbao custard tarts, almond cream tart and the Christmas compote are crying out for us to make them.
Apart from trying out Basque recipes this book is perfect for any foody planning a visit to the region and wanting to learn more about what will appear on a menu. It is also beautifully illustrated with pictures of the recipes, the Basques themselves and the beautiful scenery. An inspirational book.
Basque Country: A Culinary Journey Through a Food Lover’s Paradise. Marti Buckley. ISBN: 9781579657772. £26.99. Artisan: www.workman.com