Month: June 2016 (page 2 of 3)

Basque Country and Andalucía the Best Performing Spanish Wine Regions

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According to a recent report by Granconsumo.tv, the Basque Country and Andalucía have earned the highest growth rates in wine exports from Spain during the first quarter of 2016. The Basque Country experienced the biggest growth in sales ( 4.7 million euros) and Andalucía in production (1.4 million liters).

bodega_ysiosThis phenomenon is interesting because overall wine exports in the Spanish regions have declined in both sales and volume due to steep price increases. Castilla-La Mancha, Extremadura, Valencia, and Murcia have all experienced a fall in sales and production. According to the report, the strategy to focus on added value has made the products of Basque Country and Navarre more competitive, hence mitigating the impact of price upsurge.

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See http://www.esmmagazine.com/basque-country-and-andalucia-the-best-performing-spanish-wine-regions/28781

Two Designers Unite the Basque Country

The New York Times recently reported on the efforts of a Basque industrial designer from Iparralde, Jean Louis Iratzoki, to collaborate with another Basque designer from Hegoalde, Ander Lizaso (see some of his creations here), with the aim of creating a multipurpose design studio inspired by the Basque Country on both sides of the border.

The two of them have already made waves with a table collection that subtly combines solid oak and iron forged at a historic ironworks in Navarre. Iratzoki is known for his signature of the world’s first bioplastic chairs made of a biodegradable plant-based polymer. Iratzoki was born in Donibane lohitzune (St. Jean-de-Luz) and recently designed the interiors of a luxurious eco-lodge in Saubion, north of Biarritz. For both Iratzoki and Lizaso, their collaboration will connect both the French and Spanish side of Basque Country:  “For both my partner Ander and me, that border doesn’t exist. We cross it everyday. We speak Basque, but also Spanish and French. We work in both southern and northern sides of the Basque country. And of course the products that we design travel much further; they can be exhibited in Milan, Cologne or Chicago.”

See the original report here: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/10/arts/international/a-designer-unites-the-basque-country.html?_r=0

If you’re interested aspcets of design in the Basque Country, check out a couple of publications that are free to download courtesy of the Etxepare Basque Institute:

Architecture and Design, by Peio Aguirre, free to download here; and A Collection of Prints, by Miren Jaio, free to download here.

 

Governor signs Basque Heritage and Culture Day Proclamation

5332b2937123fc47730b98c462c8bc33Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval has officially declared June 29 as the day to celebrate “Basque Heritage and Culture in Nevada.”  As a part of this celebration, local performers and artists will perform Basque traditional dance and songs, representing Nevada at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival to be held in Washington, D.C. from June 29 to July 4. See a report on this by the Elko Daily Free Press here.

To mark the event, an Elko native, Vince Juaristi, has written a series of wonderful articles, titled “Intertwined,” which explore the connections between Basque and American culture. If you haven’t already done so, you can read these articles here.

Anyone interested in Basque culture should check out Basque Culture: Anthropological Perspectives, by William A. Douglass and Joseba Zulaika. As well as serving as a great general introduction to Basque culture, this work also includes the personal experiences and reflections of the two renowned authors.  The book is available free to download here.

 

Glowing online review for Basque education system

Sean Coughlan, education correspondent for the online BBC news service, recently published an illuminating report on the Basque education system that I would encourage you all to read.

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Students at the Altzaga Ikastola in Leioa, Bizkaia, take part in the “Gure Ohiturak” (Our Customs) dance group. Photo by Gorkaazk, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The article rests on the fascinating premise that the singularity of the Basque education system “with a strong sense of identity and ambition, emerging from conflict and with a need to compete with much bigger neighbours” potentially makes it “the next rising star” in the world of innovative education.  And referring to the strong emphasis on investment in research and development, Coughlan observes that, “In many ways, the educational profile feels more like a pocket of Scandinavia rather than southern Europe.”

Indeed, the Basque government’s education minister, Cristina Uriarte, is quoted as saying: “Education is the key to keeping our culture.” We couldn’t agree more!

Read the full report here.

If you’re interested in this topic, check out the Center publication Equality, Equity, and Diversity: Educational Solutions in the Basque Country, edited by Alfonso Unceta and Concepción Medrano. This book is available free to download here.

You may also be interested in the following related works:

Implications of Current Research on Social Innovation in the Basque Country, edited by Ander Gurrutxaga Abad and Antonio Rivera. Free to download here

Innovation: Economic, Social, and Cultural Aspects, edited by Mikel Gómez Uranga and Juan Carlos Miguel de Bustos. Free to download here

June 13, 1854: Famed bard Iparragirre performs in front of 6,000 people

On June 13, 1854, the renowned itinerant Basque bard and troubadour Jose Maria Iparraguirre performed before an extraordinary figure of six thousand people in the hallowed environment of the Urkiola Sanctuary, located in a mountainous area of Bizkaia. His performance was imbued with political comment regarding Basque decision-making powers, and this got him into yet more trouble with the Spanish authorities.

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Jose Maria Iparragirre (1820-1881). Image from the Zumalakarregi Museum, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

In the words of Joseba Agirreazkuenaga, in The Making of the Basque Question:

Jose María Iparraguirre (1820–1881) was a Carlist soldier who was exiled in different European countries. In 1853, he was able to return to the Basque Country and there he composed the song “Gernikako Arbola” (The Tree of Guernica), which became the Basque hymn at all cultural demonstrations. He achieved popular success performing traditional verses but set to more modern music. However, because of his ability to mobilize people, the Spanish government banished him from the Basque Country in 1855. He went to Galicia, Portugal, and then immigrated to Uruguay. In 1879, he took part in the Basque language festivals of Elizondo, Navarre, and became a living icon.

For Juan Madariaga Orbea, in Anthology of Apologists and Detractors of the Basque Language,  Iparragirre’s entire life was:

a model of vagabondage and painful survival, always on the verge of economic ruin, incarceration, and exile, either for political reasons or as a social outcast: an individual, like all those of his class, who was intensely embarrassing to the authorities and to power of any kind.

Perhaps this explains why so many people turned up to see him that June day in 1854.

 

Tales from Basques in the United States: Isidro Madarieta, some “royal scale” bootlegging, and collective Basque gambling fever

Isidro Madarieta Erquiaga was born on Apr. 4, 1883, in Ispaster, Bizkaia. He arrived in New York City on Mar. 4, 1901 and went to Boise. He started working as a sheepherder and, in partnership with Antonio Ocamica (b. 1887 in Ispaster, d. 1975), became a sheep owner.

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Isidro Madarieta and his wife, Isidora Osa.

In the 1910s he went on to manage a Basque hotel on Main Street, Boise. In Jul. 1916 he was detained, along with Vicente Bilbao and R. B. Howard, accused of bootlegging liquor on a “royal scale.” They were ambushed near Orchard, ID with almost 1900 quarts of whiskey (Idaho Statesman, Sep. 1, 1916). In Dec. 1922 the sheriff searched his hotel and found drinks in the kitchen and bottles of scotch hidden under the snow on the roof of the building. He was very popular in the Basque community.

In the summer of 1917 he bet against Elías Gabica of Nampa in a horse race. Not being sure of victory, he had 2 racehorses brought in from Aguascalientes in Mexico. Madarieta won, due to the fact that, among other things, Gabica, seeing all the money in play, lost his nerve and at the last moment changed the jockey.

This was not the only race. In Oct. of that same year Madarieta was back competing, this time against Tomás Muruaga of Nampa. For the occasion he hired a horse named Little Fanny. Muruaga did the same with a horse by the name of Jupiter. The betting started 90 to 100 for Muruaga but it ended 1000 to 900 in Madarieta’s favor. In the Basque communities of Boise and Nampa there emerged what amounted to collective betting fever, so much so that the locals drained the banks, which were left without any bills, according to the local press.

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There were many Basque women among those who bet, hoping to buy a silk dress. In the end, Little Fanny won. One reporter emphasized that a certain Basque lady with her son in her arms was screaming herself hoarse “Gora Boise!” (Long live Boise!) (Idaho Statesman, Oct. 1917).

In 1930 Isidro was living in Boise (9th St., and before that he lived in Idaho St.). In Boise he married Isidora Osa (born in Ibarrangelua) on Jun. 25, 1910 and they had 5 children: Juana “Susy,” Luis, Regina, Margarita, and Ángel. In 1927 he applied for US citizenship. He died in Boise Jun. 25, 1946.

We intend for Basques in the United States to be more than just an encyclopedic reference; we’d like it to be a true forum for sharing stories and anecdotes about the thousands of Basque women and men who forged new lives for themselves in the US.

If you’d like to share your own family stories with us, please click here at our dedicated Basques in the United States Project website.

Music festival season kicks off this week in the Basque Country

I’m sure we all know that every village, town, and city in the Basque Country has its own annual festival (fiesta, besta, or jaia) that serves to bind community ties and is, well, a great excuse to let your hair down and have a great time.

But did you know that in recent years a more universal kind of outdoor popular music festival, which attracts visitors from all over Europe (and beyond), has also taken root in the Basque Country? Let’s take a look at some of these, and if you are in the Basque Country this summer be sure to check them out.

The outdoor festival scene kicks off in the Basque Country this weekend, June 17-18, with the veteran Azkena Rock, in Vitoria-Gasteiz, a festival that celebrates rock n roll in all its guises and never fails to attract some of rock’s most celebrated groups. If you’re ready to rock, but in a mature chilled-out environment, this is the place for you (be sure to wear black though). This year’s acts include The Who, Danzig, Henry Rollins, Imelda May, and Radio Birdman.

On the weekend of July 1-3, in the bucolic surroundings of Lekorne-Mendionde in Zuberoa, the defiantly independent EHZ (Euskal Herria Zuzenean, Basque Country Live) festival takes place. There’s something touchingly and quintessentially Basque about this event: an intimate gathering that is resoundingly free of any corporate sponsorship and that celebrates the local and global. This year’s Basque acts include Fermin Muguruza and New Orleans Basque Orkestra and Gozategi, and from further afield the electro-folk of the Crystal Fighters, the folk-punk of The Rumjacks, the psychedelic rock of Kadavar, and the Latin sounds of La Yegros.

The weekend of July 7-9 sees the BBK Live Festival come to town in Bilbao. The festival takes place on Kobetamendi, a striking hilltop location overlooking the city, where the young gather in their makeshift tent city to party heartily throughout the weekend. You don’t even have to descend into Bilbao, as the marcha is non-stop in the hills above. The emphasis here is on independent music and among this years performers are New Order, Pixies, Arcade Fire, Foals, and Tame Impala.

This is immediately followed by the Big Festival in Biarritz, July 9-17, which typically features an eclectic mix of rock, French chanson, reggae, and techno music. Being Biarritz, too, a surfing theme runs through the week’s many events, with different daytime activities a big part of the overall experience. This year’s line up features (among many, many others) The Chemical Brothers, Pharrell Williams, The Libertines, and The Prodigy.

Later that same month, on July 28, 29, and 30, we have the Mundaka Festival in the surfing capital of Bizkaia. This year’s performers include funky rock bass goddess Nik West,  Canadian rockers Danko Jones, and folk rock stalwarts The Waterboys. The Mundaka Festival also makes a special effort to showcase the greatness of Basque food, with  tastings, workshops, street parties, and cook-offs. So for a bit of surf, turf, and wonderfully varied music, this is the place for you.

Wrapping things up at the end of the season is the Donostia Kutxa Kultur Festibala in the city by the sea, Donostia-San Sebastián. This year’s event takes place September 2-3 and features local favorites like the great Berri Txarrak and rising stars Belako as well as English indie rockers Bloc Party and Scottish hip hop popsters Young Fathers.

So, as you can see, there’s something for everyone and these are just the popular music festivals. Don’t forget, all you jazz cats, blues devotees, folkies, and classical music buffs out there, there are also plenty of events more suited to your tastes… but we’ll leave those for another post.

Prominent Basque presence among latest list of world’s top restaurants

Restaurant Magazine has just published its influential annual listing of the world’s best restaurants, among which the Basque presence is as strong as ever.

Two Basque restaurants feature in the Top 10 list:

At #7 is Mugaritz, in Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, run by Andoni Aduriz, “the natural heir,” in the opinion of Restaurant Magazine, “to the title of Spain’s most pioneering chef after Ferran Adrià.” See the magazine’s full description here.

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Entrance to Mugaritz. Photo by Krista, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

And coming in at #10 is Asador Etxebarri, in Atxondo, Bizkaia, run by Victor Arguinzoniz, who “taught himself to cook and built his own kitchen full of manual grilling contraptions using multiple types of wood. Known for his devotion to the barbecue, he is rarely seen out of the kitchen.” See the magazine’s full description here.

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Steak at Etxebarri. Photo by Krista, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

At #16 is Azurmendi in Larrabetzu, Bizkaia, run by Eneko Atxa, followed by Juan Mari Arzak and Elena Arzak’s emblematic Arzak in Donostia at #21, Nerua, in Bilbao, run by Josean Alija, at #59, and Martin Berasategui’s eponymous restaurant in Lasarte-Oria, Gipuzkoa., at #59. 

If that were not enough to demonstrate just how much Basques punch above their weight when it comes to world-class cuisine, two other Basque-run restaurants outside the Basque Country also made the top 100 list: Biko, in Mexico City, run by Mikel Alonso and Bruno Oteiza, at #43; and  Le Chateubriand, in Paris, run by Iñaki Azpitarte, at #74.

Check out the full list here.

For a general introduction to Basque food, check out Hasier Etxeberria’s On Basque Cuisine, available free to download, courtesy of the Etxepare Basque Institute, here.

Saint Anthony’s Day in Urkiola, Bizkaia

Today, June 13, marks the celebrated festival of Saint Anthony’s Day (after Saint Anthony of Padua, the patron saint of finding things or lost people ) in the Urkiola Sanctuary in Bizkaia.

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A historic image of the festival in Urkiola. Photo by Indalecio Ojanguren. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

This festival was known especially as an  important gathering place for singles (mainly women) to find prospective partners. According to tradition, single people had to walk around a large stone opposite the sanctuary to seek help in finding a prospective husband.  It is actually a meteorite that in 1929 was moved there, on the orders of the then rector of the sanctuary, Benito de Vizcarra, from a nearby mountain.

In his classic work, The Basques, Julio Caro Baroja notes:

The desire to have a fiancé gives rise to an endless number of such acts, which are linked in a particular way to a sanctuary or hermitage. Thus, for example, Bizkaian girls who want a fiancé often go to San Antonio de Urkiola. If they want him to have dark hair they throw blackheaded pins into the sanctuary, and if they want him to be blond, whiteheaded pins.

Nowadays, the stone walking tends to be more of a symbolic act of fun than anything else, but the event in general is still well attended and besides the religious ceremony at the heart of the festival, the day also includes a livestock fair and open-air dance.

 

June 10, 1835: Beginning of the Siege of Bilbao during First Carlist War

June 10, 1835 marks the start date of the famous siege of Bilbao by Carlist forces during the First Carlist War (1833-1839). The nineteenth-century Carlist Wars (with later conflicts taking place in the 1840s and 1870s) are somewhat under the radar of most general European history narratives but they were crucial in defining the political and administrative direction that modern Spain took. Interestingly for the purposes of this blog they also played a major role in shaping the fortunes of the Basque Country, which served as a principal theater of war in the 1830s and 1870s. In short, the outcome of these two civil wars established not just the Basque Country’s modern legal relationship with Spain but also played a big part in the decision of many Basques to leave their homeland in search of a better life on the other side of the Atlantic.

Although ostensibly the result of a dynastic struggle between different pretenders to the Spanish throne, the Carlist Wars were more complex civil confrontations that reflected different visions of how Spain should be organized politically. Most Basques were on the Carlist side (supporters of the pretender Don Carlos), among other reasons because they believed it guaranteed them the continuation of a political system that safeguarded Basque rights when it came to decision-making authority. On the other side, the Liberals (supporters of the regent  Mar’ía Cristina on behalf of the infant princess Mar’ía Isabel) sought to modernize Spain, centralizing decision-making authority and removing or lessening where possible those specific Basque rights.

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Carlist plans of the city for the siege of Bilbao in 1835. By Antonio de Goycoechea. In the Zumalakarregi Museum. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

During the First Carlist War, while most of the rural Basque Country supported the Carlist cause, larger urban enclaves tended to favor the modernizing ambitions of the Liberal side. The Carlist forces there were led by a brilliant and charismatic Basque general, Toma‡s Zumalacarregui (also spelled Zumalakarregi), who argued for a strike on Madrid from the Carlist bastion in Navarre, via Vitoria-Gasteiz, in sweeping fashion down from the Basque Country. He was overruled, however, by Don Carlos and was instead ordered to capture the Liberal bastion of Bilbao as an emblematic prize for the Carlist cause. Carlist forces thus laid siege to the city on June 10, but during the siege Zumalacarregui was shot and wounded, and subsequently died from his wounds. The siege formally ended on July 1, with the Carlists unsuccessful in their attempts to take the city.

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Tomas Zumalacarregui, the charismatic Carlist leader. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

 

Thereafter, the Carlists, bereft of their charismatic leader, plagued by internal divisions and grave tactical errors, and confronted with a following increasingly tired of battle, slid toward defeat. In 1839, the Carlist leader Rafael Maroto signed the Treaty of Bergara with his Liberal adversary Baldomero Espartero. This ended the war and set Spain on a path toward an administrative reshaping that gradually eroded Basque political rights.

The Zumalakarregi Museum in Ormaiztegi, Gipuzkoa (his birthplace) is a great source of information for this period in Basque history in general.

For a general introduction to the Carlist Wars and their impact on the fortunes of the Basque Country, see Cameron Watson’s Modern Basque History, available free to download here.  

The political and administrative implications of the Carlist Wars for the Basque Country are discussed in detail by Joseba Agirreazkuenaga in The Making of the Basque Question: Experiencing Self-Government, 1793-1877.

And for a riveting first-hand account of the Carlist offensive in the Basque Country during the first war, including an account of the siege of Bilbao, check out The Most Striking Events of a Twelvemonth’s Campaign with Zumalacarregui in Navarre and the Basque Provinces by C.F. Henningsen.

 

 

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