Learning About Basque Culture

On Thursday July 13, we all biked to Lacunza for our daily Spanish class. While we were on our way it started pouring and all of us got soaked. Normally, that would have bothered a lot of us, but being with friends made the experience funny and almost worth walking into class dripping wet.

After class we had some free time until both sessions, along with Professor Zabalbeascoa, met at Cristina Enea Park for our first Basque Language Class. Sitting in the park, we all took turns trying to pronounce various Basque greetings and other words that are commonly used. It was very interesting to learn about the regional language of the place we are staying in and it’s extensive yet mysterious history. After our Basque Language Class, we were able to hear from the writer of one of our assigned reading books, Marti Buckley. Marti Buckley wrote a Basque cooking book titled “Basque Country” and in the park she told us her story and how she ended up where she is. We learned that she was born in Alabama and always dreamed of being an architect. She went to Louisiana State University and while enrolled she was able to study abroad in Spain which was the beginning of her love for the country and all it offered. When she came back from Spain, she graduated, got married, and had a daughter. After spending time at home with her daughter, she was eager to begin working once again. She got a job at a kitchen and despite not liking her first day, she continued to go back and developed her love for cooking and spending time testing recipes. Years later she was able to return to Spain with a program that allowed her to teach English classes and stay in Spain while she did so. Fortunately, she made great friends who decided to open a bakery in San Sebastian called The Loaf, and asked her to work there. Since then, she has been living in San Sebastian and is currently working on her next book. After we heard about her background and what she is currently doing, she walked us through some of the steps she took in writing her first cook book. She explained to us how she researches recipes across various cook books and even asks friends and their family for their opinions and traditions. Once she has collected the recipes she revises and reworks each recipe until she thinks it is clear and concise enough for someone to be able to make this in their home kitchen.  When she concluded telling us how she wrote her book, she welcomed us to ask questions which ranged from her favorite food in San Sebastian to details of her book and experiences unique to San Sebastian. I enjoyed listening to her story and found it inspiring because of how she never lost her love for Spain and because of that, she was able to change her life forever. At the end, she signed books for us and we all took a group photo before thanking her and leaving the park.

Since it was Thursday, we were able to go to pintxo pote which is when bars/restaurants will set pintxos, or small snacks, on their bar top and people can come order them along with a drink for around three euros. When we first got to one of the main streets, we were hit with a wave of strong smells and the voices of people crowding the streets and sidewalks. It was amazing to see so many people come together to enjoy some pintxos and the company of others. Everywhere you looked people were laughing and talking to family, friends, and even people they had never met. Pintxo pote was especially interesting to me because it gave everyone a chance to meet someone who is not from the same area or country as they are. Since this rarely happens to me, it was a great experience which I enjoyed and I cannot wait to return to. When Pintxo Pote ended, we went to La Parte Vieja to a shop called Boulevard to get gelato and walk around. In San Sebastian, gelato is very popular and there are many shops around the city. Overall, today allowed me to spend time with friends from both sessions and immerse myself in the Basque Language. Additionally, I learned about writing a book based around the Basque culture and cuisine. I am very grateful for these experiences and will continue to think about them for the duration of my trip.