Tales of Spain: Becoming a Vasca (Basque)


Donostia San Sebastián - Pouring TxakoliOne of the drinks that anyone who visits the Basque Country must try is  txakoli.

Pronounced cha-kho-lee, this pale wine is actually a type of sidra, or cider.  The flavor can vary from very sweet, almost soda-like, to much more brut, with almost a hint of bitterness.  Some people love it, and others . . . do not.  It depends on your experiences with it, I suppose.

Regardless of how much you may or may not like txakoli, there is actually a certain way to drink it.  Rather, there is a certain way to pour it.  From high above the glass, so that the drink achieves that special “sparkle.”

On that fateful night when P and I missed the train and decided to go bar hopping instead, we ended up ordering a bottle of txakoli (at approximately 4€ for a bottle, it was too tempting not to).  When I tried to pour refills for both of us, the bartender chastised me.  No!  You must pour it properly! He proceeded to pour it for us.

But, of course, I needed to do it right myself, so a few tries later . . .  Voilá! I am now a proper Vasca (a.k.a., Basque).  Hooray!

Donostia San Sebastián - Not so French MacaronsWhile the Basque have their own food and drink which they do impeccably well, sometimes they don’t quite get things right.  Take these French Macarons, for example (see left).  I thought my Castilian Spanish was sufficiently decent enough to ask and confirm with the woman who sold them to me that there was NO CHOCOLATE in them.  She said, yes, they were almond paste on the outside in the flavors of frambuesa (raspberry) and café (coffee).

But, upon closer inspection, they ended up being chocolate candies covered in a layer of almond candy that just happened to look like macarons.  Sigh.  At least P got to enjoy them.

Lesson learned:  Time to improve my castellano (Spanish)!

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