Try out your Basque

10 words to get into Basque food and drink

Gastronomy is one of the most important parts of Basque culture and the Basque language is a nice way to get into it. Here you have a few words to try - many of them are sure to ring a bell!

Sagardotegi

Sagardotegi

This is what we call cider houses in the Basque Country. The season lasts from January to April, though there are some that open all year. Don’t miss the chance to try the finest natural cider served straight from the barrel and one of the traditional meals made up of cod omelette, ribs and cheese with quince jelly.

Txotx!

Txotx!

This is the expression used in cider houses to announce that one of the (barrels) is about to be opened. Everybody leaves their table and goes over to the “kupela” glass in hand, queuing to wait their turn to catch the jet and quickly make way for the next person - the coveted cider comes out of the barrel continuously and shouldn’t be wasted.

Pintxo

Pintxo

Pintxos were originally small snacks eaten between swigs of wine, and later evolved to become haute cuisine in miniature. The name “pintxo” comes from the word for a toothpick, which originally fixed the food to bread, though today pintxos come in all shapes and flavours and the toothpick is no longer obligatory.

Hamaiketako

Hamaiketako

“Lunch” in Basque; literally it means “what you have at 11:00”, as this is when people used to have their second meal in the Basque Country.

Ardo

Ardo

This is what we call wine in Basque. “Ardo beltza” is red wine, “ardo gorria” rosé and “ardo zuria” white. Wine plays a starring role in txikiteo, one of the social traditions you’ll love to join in with, and wine is also the great treasure of Rioja Alavesa, a land where you can taste the finest wines and visit stunning wineries.

Gazta

Gazta

“Gazta” is cheese in Basque. The Basque Country is a land of shepherds and excellent cheese makers. We invite you to travel our mountains and valleys and try some of the finest Idiazabal cheese. You can also find out how it’s made, as the shepherds themselves explain it.

Txakoli

Txakoli

Our white wine par excellence. Of humble origins, it now boasts three designations of origin – Getaria, Bizkaia and Álava – and is sought after on the most demanding international wine markets. It has an attractively acidic personality, is delicious as an aperitif and goes very well with fish dishes.

Pil-pil

Pil-pil

You’ll probably recognise this one in connection with cod - “cod in pil-pil sauce” is one of the star dishes of Basque cuisine. What you might not know is that “pil-pil” is Basque. As well as being onomatopoeic, describing the slow simmering required for a good sauce, it also recalls the beating of the heart and anything that is red hot or up to the moment.

Goxua

Goxua

This is one of our typical desserts, usually made from cream, sponge, confectioner’s cream and caramel, and it’s delicious. Goxoa or goxua is also a word meaning “sweet”, “tasty” or “nice” in Basque, which is just how we want your stay to be.

Marmitako

Marmitako

Literally "from the pot". Basque fishermen cooked this delicious bonito and potato stew in a pot when they were out at sea. Don’t miss trying it in summer, during the bonito season.