Basque chef Eneko Atxa interviewed in TheWeek

Check out a short but interesting interview with star Basque chef Eneko Atxa, who not only runs Azurmendi just outside Bilbao, but also has a more informal London restaurant, Eneko.

We picked up on a couple of things he mentions and think they’re pretty important when it comes to understanding Basque culture. For Atxa, “Basque people are born around the dinner table. We are unique in that when we are eating we are also speaking about our dinner; we are just crazy about our food and it dominates our conversations every day.” So true! It’s one of the first things those of us not born into Basque culture notice when hanging out with Basques on their own terrain … they not only love preparing and eating food, they love taking about it as well, while they are actually eating it! And just a heads up for anyone who didn’t know, if you ever get invited into someone’s home in the Basque Country for a meal, be sure to compliment the chef early on into the meal (“Zer goxoa!” “How tasty!”)…

Atxa continues: “my mother and grandmother always showed me the importance of the kitchen and healthy eating, and giving pleasure through food. I understood that it could be one language that could translate and transport people to a space and a culture.” Food as a language! What a great idea! Of course, we as humans communicate through food. It’s one way we transmit our tradition, culture, and love… in fact, what better way to do that than by sitting round a table enjoying great food, great conversation, and great company? Isn’t this the very basis of society, sitting down and sharing common sustenance? We think so!

See the full interview here.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to take a look at Hasier Etxeberria’s On Basque Cuisine, a publication of the Etxpeare Basque Institute free to download here.

 

2 Comments

  1. Well not all Basques are foodaholics and we don’t just talk about food over the dinner table. This article is a silly distortion and though this guy may be a great chef he doesn’t speak for all Basques.

    • katu

      July 20, 2017 at 11:24 pm

      Thank you for your comment. As academics, we are of course conscious of essentializing any culture and we’d agree that it is impossible to speak about any people wholly thinking along the same lines. In the Basque case one could also mention hiking or dancing for example. Clearly not all Basques like these pastimes, and it would be absurd to suggest otherwise (just like, as noted, it would be unreasonable to suggest any generic attachment of any one people to any one thing, such as, for example, saying that “Americans love ice cream”). However, in a blog like this, which is intended for a bit of fun, we’re only trying to share some aspects of Basque culture for Basques and non-Basques alike. For my own part, and I’m not Basque, I have to say that when in the Basque Country I am actually struck by how much people do speak about food, compared to my own culture, but that of course is my own personal opinion.

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