Basque Pintxos: Bite Size Culinary Treasures
One of the gastronomic treasures of San Sebastián is its famous tapas (or pintxos, to use the Basque term), culinary miniatures which range anywhere from a simple piece of bread covered with food, as in its origins, to the tiny culinary creations of the master chef.
Originally, the pintxo was simply a small piece of bread on which was placed a small portion of food. To hold everything together, a toothpick or a skewer was used, which is where the name “pintxo” (skewer) comes from.
In contrast to tapas, which are sometimes served when ordering a drink, pintxos are generally a slightly larger portion and must be ordered separately. Cold pintxos, are generally arranged on the bar for the diner to sample at will. Hot pintxos are ordered through the server to ensure you receive a freshly prepared serving.
In the context of the Basque gastronomic tradition, pintxos are generally eaten as an aperitif, normally accompanied with a glass of red wine. Originally, any ingredients could be put on the bread, but the most typical in Basque cooking are fish (especially hake, cod, anchovy), potatoes, stuffed peppers, croquettes, etc.
The abundance of young chefs in the Basque Country, and in Saint Sébastien in particular – the product of several excellent culinary schools – has allowed many of them to devote their talents to the elaboration and creation of new pintxos. Good news for pintxos lovers everywhere!