Yesterday, Fernando of Embajada de la Huerta gathered together a few of us from Gipuzkoa and we joined others from Bilbao & Gasteiz as a group of gastronomy, culture and Basque Country enthusiasts known here as “Igers” (see their photos on Instagram below).
Over the previous week, under drizzle and burst of sunshine, I’ve been exploring the Basque Country: Zumaia, Getaria, Donostia-San Sebastian & beyond (scroll down to see the photos).
Photography by Jonathan McCallum & Jason Coon
Yesterday I landed in Madrid Airport. The scorching heat of Spain’s interior only relented after five hot hours in the car, finally crossing the threshold into the vivid green Basque Country then as if in a dream drifting around an ocean road bend to see the beauty of our Gipuzkoan coastal fishing town. The south wind off the Cantabrian and the scent of the Txakoli grapes blended beautifully, welcoming me, it seemed, back home. Unlike the sizzling blue skies of the Iberian plains, today is cloudy in Euskadi, and it is so good to feel the lush grass damp from the morning dew, to breathe the briny air, and to hear the sound the the trikitixa and the music of people in the plaza. Holding my camera in one hand and my daughter’s hand in the other, we look towards the sea and set out walking along the northern route of St James’s Way. To share a glimpse, here are four photos from today and some favourites from when I first landed here, moving into and embracing this culture that has been so good for and to my family and me.
My friend Joseba Attard moved back to the Basque Country, to a ancient land where his mother, grandparents and ancestors dwelt for millennia. He learned the language, carved out a career as a freelance designer, and opted for life in the mountains near the sea where he shears sheep and seeks out the surf in his vintage van, his young family enjoying the peaceful pace of life. Joseba & his wife Joanna’s hard work and refreshing approach to life inspire me. The Basque media has frequently reported about his commitment to understanding and preserving the Basque language and culture, featuring him on Basque radio, newspaper and television.
Basque fishermen have plucked tuna from the sea for centuries, and this is one of their age old recipes. The name comes from the Basque word marmita, referring to the simmering vessel used to create the dish. The special delight in this recipe comes from giving the potatoes time to release their starch, slightly thickening the broth, and timing it to come together before the tuna becomes soggy. Marmitako will fill and warm you on a cold day, but it is equally delicious on a hot summer day, the season when bonito tuna is abundant in the seas.
Good news for those visiting the Basque Country from the UK–from the 29th of March 2015, British Airways will fly twice a day out of London Heathrow Terminal 1 into Bilbao, and word has it that Vueling will also be increasing their London Gatwick flights to Bilbao.