Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Te gustas ir al txikiteo? = Would you like to go on a fabulous bar hopping night filled with good, cheap food?

txikiteo – quick group migration from one bar to another, sampling wines and bar food, also known as "pinchos" and "caxuelitas".

After a healthy lunch chosen from the menu del dia  ( a low-cost three course lunch that by law must be offered at all Basque restaurants) and a few more hours of honest work, the masses flood the streets with laughter and chatter, hollers and handshakes. Newborns bounce on enthusiastic mums, the elderly shout wise words firmly to gaggles of girls and couples stroll on the cobble streets. They spill in and out of one bar after another. It’s what the Basque do, and they call it txikiteo, a steady migriation from one locale to another, sipping the local cidre (poured with muchos flare)and snacking on pinchos. 

In most of Spain they are referred to as tapas, but in Basque, they call them pinchos: from the Spanish verb pinchar (to prick), pinchos are little bites you can pick up with one hand - leaving the other for your glass. They are small, so they’ve got to pack a punch to fuel and satisfy the swells.  Not that they need any more seducing. With local avacados, olive oils, cheeses and chorizos to choose from, they are all bound to swallow. Gulp after satisfying gulp, they cut the rich bites with crisp apple cider or sips of Sauvignon Blanc from their neighbours in Loire. The tart drink leaves the stomach wonting; Digestivo is apertifo too, separated by bites of salt cod confit on crackers, olive oil seared scallops spiked with toothpicks and simple sandwiches made with just one slice of meat. Most of them are 1 euro. 

Typical Basque pinchos include fried Piquillo peppers, blood sausage, and the famous Gilda, which is an olive, a guindilla (a very hot pepper), an onion and a piece of cod or anchovy drenched in olive oil and vinegar. The oily, salty, sweet fish helps to calm the firey pepper and the onion helps the pepper fight back.  

After bar hopping and gaining a steady appetite, the Basque population will slowly slow down and sit down for a long and late dinner. 

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