Basque Cooking: If Ours Were the Worst of All Lives

Journal of the International Wine & Food Society  London, 1988 (1,900 words; extracts)
Versión en español | Version de langue française | Japanese version  

5/cont. 

New horizons may also be local. Writing in Fool, the cult Swedish food magazine, Tara Stevens has described Andoni Aduriz and his kitchen team at Mugaritz as "making the best use of things that they find on any given day." It's a well-picked metaphor for their regular foraging in the wild - sometimes of aromatic plants to make soap but more often of herbs - and hands-on harvesting of fresh produce."

Local culinary identity – today too internationalist to be called regional pride – remains a catalyst hand-in-hand with the traditional egalitarian idea of culinary culture....

FOOD AS SOCIAL NARRATIVE

Women are also making their way back into professional kitchens.  The new Centro Culinario Vasco (Basque Culinary Centre), linked to Mondragón University, which offers Europe's first degrees in gastronomic science, gave 43% of its places to women in the first year’s intake in 2011.

Today the crisis is far wider than one of produce. But perhaps the crisis de producto has helped in the  narrative for finding wider solutions. Local culinary identity - today too internationalist to be called regional pride - remains a catalyst hand-in-hand with the traditional egalitarian idea of a culinary culture. A Basque saying designed to express appreciation at the end of a good meal says it all. "Gu txartoen bizi gareonak biagina, elitzaka munduan txarrik izango."  (If ours were the worst of all lives, then there could be no bad in the world.)

Might that collective voice, wishing the best for all, be a declaration of intentions? One hopes so. 

© Vicky Hayward, 1988-2012.

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