When corn reached the Basque Country from the New World, at the beginning of the 16th century, it was an authentic agricultural revolution for the Basque farmhouses in the more mountainous regions.  Its influence was so great that it spread far and wide, both in the Northern Basque Country and the Southern Basque Country, turning apple orchards into endless fields of corn.  It was such a change that it even almost brought down traditional hard apple cider, whose production is only now beginning to make a comeback.

Curiously, a recovery of the apple orchards and traditional Basque cider culture has coincided with the recovery of the Arto gorria or Grand Roux Basque variety, which was, for centuries, the main variety grown in the Basque Country until it almost disappeared when more productive hybrid versions were introduced.  Grand Roux Basque reappeared in the Northern Basque Country in the 1990s, when, as legend hast it, a farmer from north of the Pyrenees found it still being cultivated in a convent south of the Pyrenees.  He took a few grains with him, in his boina, and started growing it.

arto-gorria
Arto gorria (Grand Roux Basque)

This led to the new development of plantings of this variety, which is now appreciated for its excellent sensory qualities: its many different colors, which go from yellow almost to red, and orange to brown, its sweet flavor, and its creamy texture.  Its flour is used in many dishes, and it’s beginning to appear on the menus of some renowned chefs.  Recently, with the rise of food allergy awareness, this corn is also being used to make gluten-free products.

Read all about it on the Italian website Slow Food Foundation.

Slow Food Foundation – 28/7/2014 – Italy

Basque Grand Roux Corn

Native to the Basque Country and also known there as arto gorria, Grand Roux corn has a long and unusual history. The variety began to spread through the northern regions of the zone during the 16th century, becoming a staple in the local diet and culture of the rural Basque populations. Often grown intercropped with beans, it was used to feed animals and in cornbread, a polenta-like porridge and talo, flatbreads similar to tortillas and greatly appreciated for their texture.

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