Since we’re just starting out together, I thought it might be appropriate to begin with the basics. The really basic basics. So I will be highlighting the ABC’s of Basque food on the blog.
A is for…. ANGULAK. Also known as txitxardina, these are elvers, or baby eels. They also cost 1000 euros per kilogram. What, you didn’t know that in a certain corner of the world baby eels were nearly as precious as caviar? Well here in Basque Country, the price of these little guys skyrocketed when demand from foreign soil nearly wiped them out.
Nowadays they are usually enjoyed by the upper crust on special days, such as the Day of San Sebastián (January 20). They are typically cooked really, really simply: a bit of garlic, hot olive oil and just a moment in the pan. It’s a moment for steel nerves, even among the expert cooks of the local gastronomic societies.
You can find the imitation version lining the bars of the old town in San Sebastián. They are served as a simple pintxo on top of bread, with a pepper vinaigrette, or atop salads. It’s worth a try, but neither the texture or taste will come close to the real thing. You can save that for a special occasion.
Photo by Andoni Munduate.