This is a question our regular readers would never have to ask, but what many people who travel out west might wonder why there are so many Basque restaurants, Basque centers, and Basuqe festivals where young and old alike have been dancing to the rhythm of the txistu and tamboril and trikitixa for generations.
Here on the blog, we’ve covered the Basque Museum, the Basque Center, and the Basque Block in Boise; Picon punch; the Basque shepherds who carved arboglyphs all over the place; Johnson County, Wyoming, which uses the Ikurriña as the base for its flag; the Jaialdi, the huge festival which brings together Basques from two continents at Boise; the recognition of Basque culture by the US government; the role the Basques played in the independence of the US, without which the Far West would never have existed; and even the presence of Olentzero out in that neck of the woods.
We’ve covered all that and so much more, so many of the amazing, even incredible, all about the influence and weight this small community of Basques has had and continues to have in the United States.
But what has likely generated the largest number of entries would be Basque cuisine in the US, at Basque hotels, which were like embassies, shelters, and homes, for those Basques who emigrated to the Far West in search of a better life.
Our readers know all these stories, but, as we said, the rest of the world may not, and thus may be surprised when they discover that between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada, that huge swath of land made mythical by cowboys and shepherds, that Basque cuisine is the more influential, and its true mark of identity.
That’s what H.D. Miller, the director of the Department of History, Politics, and Philosophy at the University of Lipscomb in Nashville said in this very interesting blog, An Eccentric Culinary History, with an entry titled “Basque-American: The Authentic Cuisine of the Intermountain West.”
This is what Melissa Corbin covers in her article on the website Tasting Table, of this inheritance of Basque cuisine created by the emigrants there and adapted to the traditional cuisine of their surroundings, creating something new without breaking off the roots: Basque cuisine in the US.
She also explains the national origin of those Basque who became shepherds in the vastness of the Intermountain West, though we doubt that most of them were lonely shepherds watching over flocks numbering in the thousands, as back home they were never in charge of more than a dozen or so sheep; it’s likely many had never done any shepherding at all before hand. But they had to make a living, and dove right in.
And they did it very well. Just over 100 years later, the Basque community the US West has made itself at home, and been warmly received thanks to their hard work and commitment to their community.
Tasting Table – 19/1/2023 – USA
Why There Are So Many Basque Restaurants In The American West
Home to the largest Basque population (more than 16,000 per Boise Dev) aside from their native European homeland — Boise, Idaho’s Basque Block serves as a mecca for the culinary culture about which many Americans may know little.
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Header photo: Basque shepherds in the US
Last Updated on Jan 24, 2023 by About Basque Country