Every Friday of every week the Hemingway Institute organizes a tour around the old part of the city, enjoying a glass of beer or vine together with the tradition of eating pintxos, which are very popular in the Basque Countries.
The pintxos are usually formed by a small piece of bread with a piece of food on the top. They are called in this way since they are characterized by a small chopstick (palillo) that keeps together the bread and the food.
Sometimes the pintxos are associated with the tapas, even though they are indeed very similar, they have different characteristics. Usually the tapas are offered together with a drink and they are really small, instead the pintxos are ordered separated from the drink and they are a bit bigger. The cold pintxos are served directly on the tables of the bars, while for the hot one it is necessary to ask the waitress, who will cook them right away.
The ingredients more common that are used for the pintxos come from the Basque cousin such as fresh fish (cod, hake, anchovy…) potato omelet, paprika, croquettes. Furthermore it is usual to put different colored chopsticks to different types of pintxos so that the waitress can bill the clients dependently of which and how many pintxos she ate.
The History of pintxos
In the XII century, the King Alfonso the wise, ordered to his servants to always serve drinks together with some food. However it was not until the ninetieth century that the tapas started to become popular in bars and restaurants.
Moreover the name “tapas” was developed when the King Alfonso XIII went to visit Cadiz, and while he was drinking, the wind brought a bit of wind in his glass of vine. At this point the waitress put a piece of ham on the top of the glass, to close (tapar) the glass.
The tapas started to become popular in the center and the south of Spain. During the 30s, the aristocracy moved to the north where the tapas turned into an expression of the gastronomy of the Basque countries throughout the pintxos.