Sunday, July 16, 2017


Since I stayed in San Sebastián, the self-proclaimed gastronomical center of the universe (unlike Fremont, that does not categorize the centrality), I thought I'd write about Pintxos and a life lesson.
Life Lesson #1: Always ask your waiter what they like.
This doesn't mean you can't refuse their advice or steer them towards your taste - but 8 times out of 10, if you are an adventurous eater, your waiter will nail something you never would have ordered. This was never more true in the Pintxos world.
Most bars in the Basque Country have an insane array of food, usually atop a piece of bread, that you pick and pay 1 to 3 Euros for. For many in Pamplona, and Estella, and San Sebastián, and Bilbao, these can constitute a meal - after eating these for almost a week, I tend to disagree, but I am a curmudgeon.
The tapas wave hit the US about two decades ago and while fun, always seemed to me a scheme to order more food and run up my bill. Pintxos, while I actually love many of the ones I've tried, seem to have turned this capitalistic corner.
Regardless - I encourage whether you are ordering food at an Appleby's (gasp) or a Mom-and-Pop roadside stand, ask what they like and try to let go.

Here's how my adventure unfolded in San Sebastián :
I took a bite of the Bacalao
First time out. I was jonesing for some sardines and anchovies so I pick one of each and then asked the waiter, in Spanish (aren't you impressed), whatever you think is best. What he brought me cost a bit more, and I waited for 20 minutes, but the result was a Foie a la Plancha (liver!) that almost made me cry it was so good.
The next night out, I simply asked the bar man to give me three of what he liked. Strangely one had both anchovies and sardines, one had a purée of Bacalao (cod), and the third had mushrooms with grilled goat cheese. I was in heaven.
The forgettable plate
Statistics do catch up with us. At the next bar that evening, I tried the same tactic and the food was somewhat forgettable.
Life Lesson #2: Nothing makes food tastes better than being hungry. Not hungry? Have an apple or some protein and skip a meal.
Here Endeth the Lesson. St. Mike
Learn more about the Tapas vs. Pinchos debate:

No comments: