The New York Times has a special place in its heart for the Basques. We’re not sure why, but it was they who first brought George L. Steer’s account of the truth of the Bombing of Guernica on their front page, which served not only to expose the lies of the Franco regime but also turn the Basques’ holy city into a universal symbol of the denouncement of war. So yes, we admit, we’re not sure why, but if you look back at all the great entries we’ve published from this newspaper, you’ll see what we mean.
Today we were surprised by a spectacular report, full of humanity, in their cuisine section: it was two pages long! It’s a human interest story about the Noriega Restaurant, the Basque restaurant in Bakersfield, California which, as we reported, this past Monday received one of the five America’s Classics awards which, according to the James Beard Foundation, are given to restaurants which are distinguished by their “timeless appeal,” serving “quality food that reflects the character of their communities”.
This article is a can’t miss, full of anecdotes, showing off the great fondness for the restaurant and its owners. Among the anecdotes, one we quite liked was told by state judge Larry Errea (obviously of Basque heritage) about what happened at the beginning of the 20th century, when his grandmother arrived at Ellis Island:
“… Tells a story about his grandmother Manuela Echenique, who could speak only Basque when she arrived at Ellis Island from Spain early in the 20th century. Before she caught a train across the country, immigration officials simply – pinned a note to her lapel that said ‘Noriega Hotel, Bakersfield, Calif.’ -“
Like we said, the Noriega Restaurant is one of five winners in this year’s America’s Classics award. We get the feeling the paper won’t be dedicating such long articles to the other four winners, which undoubtedly says quite a lot about the Noriega Restaurant, and also the prestige and esteem held for the Basques in the US.
And as if that weren’t enough, there’s also a video the Foundation prepared about the restaurant.
So, once again, we have to thank the Basques of the diaspora for their incalculable (and too often underappreciated) contribution to the positive image of the Basques in the world. As we always say, they’re a positive role model for us Basques at home, despite the negative image some might have of them as being nothing more than aid receivers who contribute nothing.
The New York Times – 10/5/2011 – USA
The Spotlight Finds a Basque Shepherds’ Canteen
“I’VE never hailed a taxi in my life,” Linda McCoy said on the phone last week from central California. “I’m terrified of this whole thing.” Ms. McCoy, one of the owners of a Bakersfield restaurant known as Noriega’s, was making arrangements to visit New York in the company of Rochelle Ladd, her sister and her partner in the enterprise. They were coming to the city, a first for both women, to accept an award from the James Beard Foundation in a ceremony that took place Monday night at Lincoln Center. To be honest, Ms. McCoy didn’t sound totally thrilled about it.
Google Translate. The NYT doesn’t allow for automatic translations, so you have to copy and past yourself
Video: Noriega’s Restaurant
The general information from the NYT Cuisine Section about the award
Eleven Madison Park, ABC Kitchen and Gabrielle Hamilton Win James Beard Awards
Amid the all heartfelt Oscar-style thank-you speeches Monday evening at the annual James Beard Foundation Awards, Gabrielle Hamilton’s remarks came as a cold shower. The chef and owner of Prune in the East Village, who was named Best Chef for New York City, looked sleek in creamy satin, apologized for not having prepared a speech, and said: “All you have to do is open a can of sardines and a box of Triscuits, call it a signature dish, and you get Best Chef New York City.”