A week of Tapas in Pamplona Spain 2010
Sabina Posthumus, the real deal wine and culinary writer, has been nominated for a writing award for an article she wrote about Pamplona Spain’s pincho food tradition. “Noncha met een Pincho” is the article she wrote for Wine Life, a Dutch Wine magazine. http://www.winelifemagazine.nl/.
But since I have fallen for Spain, although I have never set foot there, it is with pleasure that I share some of the information about “Pincho” from Sabina’s Article.
Pamplona Spain is where the running of the bulls takes place every year. However this is Basque country and in Northern Spain the food tradition has its own flair. Pinchos are similar to tapas or appetizers, yet better, says Sabina. The name Pincho comes from the “toothpick” that holds the little appetizer together. In April there is a week long pincho competition.
A typical day in Pamplona starts with an espresso and bread at the local bar. Then quickly, they are off to work. Lunchtime is when the action starts. Coworkers arrive and start with a wine or two and a few Pinchos. After that friendly beginning, everyone moves to a table for a three-course meal and work conversation. (Could you imagine having time for any of that at lunch?) After lunch it’s back to work until 7:00! Return to the bar and more wine and pinchos. The Week of Pinchos is a competition where judges vote, by text, for the bar with the best pinchos. Sabina’s tour guide is Javier Andot Andion. Secretly, he is one of the judges. During this week, the only pinchos served are for the competition. One of the criteria for the food is that it must be made from local ingredients. Another criteria Javier said: is that it must not be too complicated – no serious silverware used. On a busy day 1,200 pinchos are served! Some 200 bars compete. The bars’ customers run the gamut from elderly Basque men wearing berets, laborers with paint spattered clothes, to woman with their dogs, dodging kiddy wagons that suddenly are dragged into the bar. Stand at the bar and no sitting in the corner – that is for lovers and old folks.
The description of one of these little morsels is really enticing, “…a piece of poached salmon with a velvet sauce rolled up in an edible blue flower. What an elegant small dish that the barman has put together!” (Very loosely translated by me.) There is lots of discussion about the favorites that people have eaten around town among the people at the bar. The barman asks if they have been to a particular bar, Albaco Bar, a front-runner this year, because he has to work and cannot sample the competition’s pinchos. Bummer.
It all seems very fun and exciting for food lovers. Some white wine and two pinchos, please!
This was excerpted with permission from Sabina. (Many thanks.) Congrats to Sabina! (We wait for the outcome of the award in November.)