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The Basque Kitchen: Tempting Food from the Pyrenees Hardcover – April 21, 1999


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The Basque Kitchen: Tempting Food from the Pyrenees + Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition + The Basque Table: Passionate Home Cooking from Spain's Most Celebrated Cuisine
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; 1st edition (April 21, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0067574610
  • ISBN-13: 978-0067574614
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 8.1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #527,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Sometimes, when you are Basque, you speak English with a French accent. Sometimes, that accent will sound a little more Spanish than not, and yet you are still Basque. Such are the complications of one of the more peculiar pockets of humanity to be found. For the country occupied by the Basque people is in both France and Spain while remaining unique unto itself. The Basque language is like no other, and no one knows where it comes from. Even Basque DNA is different than the DNA of other Europeans. Food--the taking of meals--is central to the culture. In some places it's a little more French than Spanish; in other places in Basque country, just the opposite is likely to be true.

Chef and restaurant owner Gerald Hirigoyen invites the reader into The Basque Kitchen. In page after delicious-looking page, Hirigoyen presents what he most loves about the cuisine. And rather than suggest that what he so loves remain frozen in a museum of cuisine, he embraces the foods and cooking techniques he has encountered in Paris and California. His Seared Ahi Tuna Steaks with Onion Marmalade honors his uncle's tuna and onion casserole. But instead of covering a tuna steak with onions and olive oil in a casserole and cooking a long time, Hirigoyen prepares an onion marmalade, then pan sears thick ahi steaks until they are hot and rare, and serves it all on a bed of lentils. He's saying that you have to be Basque to get there, but now that we have all arrived, we're somewhere else, yet connected.

And what a marvelous connection. The vast majority of the foods to be encountered between the covers of The Basque Kitchen are simple in nature, yet complex in the flavors they deliver. Potato and chorizo tortilla, an omelet of onion, potato, chorizo, salt, pepper, and parsley, gains added radiance with a little piment d'Espelette, powdered small, dried red peppers with a distinct flavor. Steamed mussels are prepared with tomatoes, crusty bread cubes, white wine, parsley, and chives. It's a dish from St.-Jean-de-Luz, over which the author proposed to his wife.

Gerald Hirigoyen brings to life the foods of his youth and family, as well as foods he has created from experience and whimsy. Refusing to be confined by tradition, Hirigoyen takes inspiration from Basque tradition and demonstrates the timelessness of the Basque kitchen. The benefits for one and all are right there, page after page after page. --Schuyler Ingle

Review

"To know how to eat is to know enough." -- Old Basque Saying


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Customer Reviews

Our results are consistently easy, delicious, and even look as good as the photos.
Una
I scanned Mr. Hirigoyen's book and did not buy it, even though I am always on the lookout for books on the cuisines of Spain and Spain's Basque Country.
Amazon Customer
I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in adding some wonderful new flavors to their kitchen.
M.A.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Victor de la Serna (vserna@el-mundo.es) on October 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
So Seared Ahi Tuna Steaks with Onion Marmalade and Lentils is Basque? Because there's tuna in it and the Basque dish, Marmitako, is also based on tuna (bluefin tuna, by the way)? No. Mr. Hirigoyen's dish, which can be perfectly OK, is the typical French/Californian concoction with maybe a touch of Asian in it. Again: very fine, but Mr. Hirigoyen should avoid using the misleading word, "Basque", in the title. The Basque Country is about 85% on the Spanish side of the border, south of the Pyrenees and the Bidasoa river. While the "Spanish Basque" chefs have remained adamantly Basque, and have indeed "Basquified" to a large extent all of modern Spanish cookery, the "French Basque" chefs have let themselves, for many decades, become thoroughly "Frenchified", learning in French culinary schools and following the edicts of classic French cuisine. This becomes apparent in Mr. Hirigoyen's constant use of butter, not to mention many of his techniques.
One of the top two chefs now working in Iparralde (i.e. the French part of the Basque Country), Christian Parra of L'Auberge de la Galupe in Urt (the other is Firmin Arrambide, of Les Pyrénées in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port), once told the French magazine Gault-Millau: "You know why the Spanish Basque chefs are better and more creative than we are? Because we all have a well-worn copy of Escoffier's cook next to our kitchen, and the Spanish Basques haven't even heard of Escoffier.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By M.A. on January 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I'm a tough customer for cookbooks, but this one is a winner on many fronts for me. The recipes are exciting and different from the many other European regional cookbooks, the history is interesting, the photos are beautiful, and best of all for me, the recipes are nearly fool-proof. I delighted my friends one night recently with the lamb stew - fabulous - and my husband has made the haricots verts salad a staple in our home. The gateau basque and chocolate "rocks" are both unforgettably wonderful. I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in adding some wonderful new flavors to their kitchen.
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26 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 29, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I scanned Mr. Hirigoyen's book and did not buy it, even though I am always on the lookout for books on the cuisines of Spain and Spain's Basque Country. What put me off was the recipe for patatas a la riojana, which called for no chorizo and included butter and white pepper (as did many of the so-called Spanish Basque recipes). Patatas a la riojano just happens to be one of my favorite folk dishes in Spain. As the name implies, it comes from the great Spanish wine region, La Rioja, which also has a Basque section, La Rioja Alavesa. In my trips to La Rioja, probably 30 by now, I have had patatas a la riojana numerous times, never without chorizo. In fact, patatas a la riojana is also known by its more common name, patatas con chorizo. I have also helped make bacalao al pil-pil and I can assure you, there is nothing easy about the versions I have seen made, contrary to Mr. Hirigoyen's assertions. As a widely-published writer on the wines of Spain, I was shocked by Mr. Hirigoyen's lack of knowledge about the wines of the Spanish Basque Country. As to French Basque food, perhaps the book is much stronger, but I know little about the subject. Spain and France, Basque or not, are much different in their approach to food, IMHO
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 23, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Hirigoyen should have based his book on the french basque recepies and left the spanish basque recepies to the ones who know better. I have not seen a single spanish basque dish in the book that is authentic! Hirigoyen should know that we never cook with butter and white pepper.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I have seen the book in a bookstore but i haven't bought it because i was very surprised to see that the Spanish Basque recipes are anything but authentic: "patatas a la riojana" is NEVER cooked with butter and the main ingredient is "chorizo sausage" which is missing in Hirigoyen's recipe. "Bacalao pil-pil" will never work if you follow the recipe in the book because you will need more olive oil for that amount of cod and onion is certainly never used for this dish. It is a very difficult dish to make. I don't understand why Hirigoyen says it's easy. There are many more examples why i decided not to buy the book even though it looks very pretty.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 19, 1999
Format: Hardcover
A pretty book with some nice pictures, but it does little to portray veritable Basque cuisine. I am a Spaniard from Catalunya who loves good food and knows the kitchen. I was bothered by many things in this book -- his overuse of butter, for instance... Gazpacho is a dish from southern and central Spain, not the Basque country. Gazpacho does not need an "earthy" flavor as Mr. Hirigoyen suggests by adding red beets (What an aberration!). The dish "Hake San Sebastian" is unheard of anywhere in the Basque country, unless he means his own version of the traditional "Merluza en Salsa Verde". "Bacalao al Pil Pil" is one of the most ancient and sophisticated dishes of the Basque country (possibly of Europe)and is taken for granted without giving it due respect... In sum, quite a disappointing and misleading view of Basque food.
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