Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Peter piper loves the Basque Country

Somehow when I decided to move abroad, I unknowingly picked an epicenter of delicious food.  From pintxos to cider houses to sheep cheese and squid, I can't seem to get tired of the scrumptous Basque food.

When my cousin Cathy and Grammy came to visit, Joseba whipped up a plate of one of his favorite dishes - a plain and simple plate of peppers.  But these aren't just any peppers, these are large and tasteful green peppers that you cook lightly with some extra virgin olive oil and then sprinkle with sea salt and eat just like that.  From a restaurant dish to a pintxo liking these peppers is a Basque requirement.  They are to die for but something my family had never seen before. 

Cathy loved them so much she wanted to plant some in her garden at home so we tried fruitlessly to find out what kind of peppers they were.  In Basque Country they are referred to as Gernika peppers, hailing from the famous town of Gernika.  However, we couldn't figure out what they were in English and she went home empty-handed. 

Just the other day, an article came across my laptop called 'A Guide to Peppers of the Basque Country' so I took a gander and sure enough, there they were - the infamous Gernika peppers or as we would call them Choricero peppers. 

As the article explains, peppers, which were brought home from the New World by the Basques in the 16th century are a staple in Basque cooking.  From seasoning of food (roasting peppers) to stuffed pepper dishes (the red choricero peppers) to the stand along green choricero peppers and their close relatives the guindilla peppers that are used for many pintxos, bars are peppered out! 

Like we are used to in the Southwest, people here also hang peppers out to dry - but to a much larger extent.  I have seen sides of houses almost completely covered in red peppers drying!  If the person doesn't have a whole side of a house, they atleast hang a strand or two out on thier patio!  And why wouldn't you?  They are little taste explosions!

I don't know readily available the green choricero peppers are at home nor how much they go for (quite a pretty euro here) but if you run across them, just buy a couple and try them out  - I can guarantee you won't regret it!



PC Adventures said...

I can taste these amazing peppers as I was reading your story. Just found a source, I hope, for the seeds. Yes, these fantastic little peppers must have a place in our garden. xxoo Cathy

Amanda said...

Ohh ohh ohhhhh! We are already looking forward to tasting them straight from the garden! Fingers crossed that your source has them :)

Unknown said...

I became interested in these peppers last year. A generous member of the Basque community sent me a batch of seed from their garden. I'm shooting for a September harvest. My plants are just a few inches tall right now.

Did you get any seeds started?

Amanda said...

Oh lucky you - seeds straight from the garden! My cousin seems to have found a place to get the in the States and will plant them for next Fall's harvest. Fingers crossed they are just as delicious as the ones here. Hope yours turn out just as tasty as the ones here!