Update: the second part of this docu-series has been released! We’ll be updating as more are released, right up to the conclusion!


Jacob Shaw is the manager of a movie theater in Bakersfield which is producing a docuseries called “Basque Tracks” about the past, present, and future of the local Basque community.  The first episode will debut on their website on February 14, and the second episode is already in production.

We found all this out thanks to journalist Ava Kershner on the website of Channel 23 Bakersfield, the local ABC affiliate.  Her report shares some clues about how important those tracks, and the Basque present, are in southern California.  We’ve written quite a bit about that on the blog.

As we’ve commented on many occasions, we’re always amazed by how much interest the small Basque community that moved to the US in the 19th century generates among American media and indeed American society.  And that’s not even including the many Basques who were living in what is now the US but what was then Mexico, “inherited” from the lands of the monarchs of Castile.  All this information, too, has been the inspiration for many articles on our blog.

In this article, beyond the huge news that Jacob Shaw has decided to produce this series, we wanted to highlight a few things that we thought were important, in addition to the importance and interest the Basque presence has in this part of California; this is the same interest that is the main reason this whole project got started.

And this additional thing, despite how obvious it may seem, is of utmost importance: Basque cuisine.  Or, more to the point, Basque gastronomy in the US.  And this is because, w’ere sure, many of those who love these hotel restaurants, with the long tables and hearty dishes, will be surprised to come to the Basque Country as see just how different gastronomy is in the homeland.  But we’re also sure they will take no time in realizing that on both sides of the Atlantic, the cuisine is based on the same principles of respect for the ingredients and simplicity in preparation, without hiding the flavors of the basic products which were originally created by and for people with few resources.  The products themselves may vary, but the spirit is the same.

Some of those who have written here have known restaurants where the tables were long, where you sat with people you didn’t know, and where hearty stews and fish and meat dishes were set in the middle, so that each diner could serve themselves.  This is quite similar to the Basque hotels in the States, where young men would set off to strike their fortune, and would stay at the hotels and dine with perfect strangers at long tables, eating food that would become the basis of American Basque cuisine.

The other matter that caught our attention is who we once again come across the idea of just how quickly the Basques integrated into local society and improved it.  The “social ladder” was especially kind to them.  But that wasn’t a fluke: their community spirit led them to create mutual support networks (something very typical of the Basques: it’s no coincidence that the biggest co-ops in the world are in the Basque Country).  A few years ago, we brought you an article by Vince Juaristi in which he discussed this reality.  The beginning of the article is quite illustrative:

When the Basque came to America during the mid-20th century, they had very little — no money, no education, no command of English. They were desperately down to be sure, but not out. All they had was each other.

In this article, Vince Juaristi explains the secret of the rapid rise the Basque Community experienced, shooting from the edges of society to become role models.  He highlights some data:

The results are vivid among the 57,000 Basque in America today. According to the last census, more than 75% of Basque age 25 years or older have some level of college education compared to only 58% of Americans overall. They are 31% more likely to hold jobs in management, business, science or the arts. Their median household income is $70,159 compared to the U.S. median of $52,176. Their poverty rate is half the national average, and they are more likely to own their own home. When they do, the home is 48% more valuable than the average American home.

We really liked the article, and we absolutely love the idea that Jacob Shaw has had  to delve into the project about the Basques of Bakersfield, as it helps us feel even prouder of the Basques who are spread all over the world, sharing the best image of our country and our society.

As we said, the first episode debuts on February 14, but we’ve already got some trailers that will give us an idea of what it will be like.  And from what we’ve seen, we’re sure we’re going to love it.

We’ll leave you with Ava Kershner‘s article on the 23 ABC Bakersfield website, along with a link where new episodes of the docu-series will debut.

Eskerrik asko Jacob Shaw

23 ABC Bakersfield – 6/2/2024 – USA

New docuseries stars Bakersfield Basque community

“My favorite restaurant here in Bakersfield is Benji’s. I go there for a lot of my big moments in life, my North Star moments in life. Like if you get married or your wedding or your anniversary dinner, your birthday dinner,” said Jacob Shaw, the Basque Tracks Cinematographer.

(Follow) (Automatic translation)

Shaw Cinema –     – USA

Basque Tracks

First trailer to our short docuseries on the past, present and future of the Basque community here in Kern County. SPONSOR: Motor City & Shane Sanborn Construction


Remember that YouTube offers automatic subtitles and translations


Ep. 1 The Bread

Ep. 2 The Brothers

Ep. 3 The Ladies

Last Updated on May 13, 2024 by About Basque Country

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