Basque city San Sebastián is known for great atmosphere and beautiful city beaches, but especially for the food. More exactly, for pintxos, worth to try everywhere.
At first sight, it might be tempting to stay in one place but the right way to have your pintxos is to savour one or two plus a drink, at one bar, and then move on to the next location.
Pintxos are, actually, a way of socializing.
The habit started out just as something like an appetizer before dinner but evolved into a vibrant social culture, especially as Basque people do not usually invite people at home but celebrate almost all events in their city bars. From small cafes to Michelin stars restaurants, and from simple sandwiches to complex combinations, the pintxos mark today most of the public places in the Basque country. The traditional way of eating pintxos is known as txikiteo, a sort of pub-crawl in which a group of friends, usually men, move from bar to bar, having their small glasses of wine or txikitos to go with their small bites of delicacies while, traditionally, singing.
Pintxos can be just a simple mix or a very sophisticated small dish, sometimes consisting of very elaborate sometimes expensive fish, seafood, or meats, thus becoming what is known as miniature cuisine. Usually they are slices of bread with a mixture of ingredients fastened with a toothpick or small wooden skewer – pintxo, meaning spike, and which gave the food its name. They are usually eaten as an appetizer, accompanied by either a small glass of wine – txikito, or a quarter of a beer pint – zurito.
Almost any ingredient can be put on the bread, but those most commonly found in the Basque Country include fish such as hake, cod, or anchovy; tortilla de patatas; stuffed peppers; croquettes; the simple yet tasty sliced baguette layered with jamón ibérico, queso de cabra (goat cheese) or anchovies; or slices of local cheese with tomato jam. These mixes are neither big nor small, somehow of the size of a regular sandwich, and each cost somewhere between 2 to 6 euros.
Photo credit: Ioana Paunescu