What souvenirs to bring back from the Basque country?

The Basque country has a rich heritage with many traditional products to savor and enjoy. In this article, we'll go over what is worth bringing back from the Basque Country.

 

Makhila

The origin of makhila - makila, makilla or maquila, several spellings exist - remains a mystery. Historically used as a walking stick by the Basques, the makhila - which means “the stick” in Basque - was part of the daily life of the inhabitants of the Basque Country, especially in the province of Labourd.

At a time when transportation was poor and roads were not always safe, it was both a walking aid and a weapon to intimidate or fight the enemy if necessary. It was not until the XNUMXth century that the first references to the makhila appeared in the literature, when the object was already well established in everyday Basque life.

 

Espelette pepper

The origins of Espelette pepper go back to Mexico. These were the first great explorers who made it possible to spread the cultivation of chili peppers around the world in just a few years. But how did this “Pimento” arrive in the vegetable gardens of the province of Labourd? Nobody knows it, but as early as 1650, the first traces of Pepper were found around Espelette.

Basque gastronomy incorporates this pepper in almost all dishes because it adds a subtle and unique touch to any type of food, from pâté to black pudding.

 

Ossau-Iraty

The Basque Country is best known for its phenomenal sheep's milk cheese, Ossau Iraty.

The difficult paths between the mountains and the valleys of the Basque Country forced the shepherds to turn sheep's milk into a cheese that could be taken down into the valleys to be sold. Sheep's milk cheese was the main source of income for Basque shepherds.

The Pyrénées-Atlantiques is still today the first basin of farm cheeses in France. More recently (early XNUMXth century), the production model on farms has been adopted by cheese factories: they make traditional cheese in artisanal or industrial conditions by collecting the milk from the shepherds who raise the sheep and sell the milk.

 

Beret

This symbol of French culture originates from the Basque Country. Shepherds of the Pyrenees wore sheep wool berets for protection from the elements from the XNUMXth century.

There are several shops that sell authentic berets in the Basque Country, the most famous being the Laulhère House.

 

espadrille

The espadrille is a traditional shoe which is one of the many emblems of the Basque Country. Having become a real fashion accessory, the espadrille is particularly appreciated during the summer period, but is also ideal to wear at home. Its simplicity, lightness, wide range of colors, comfort and natural materials used in its manufacture have contributed to its continued success.

 

Black Cherry Jam

Renowned in the Basque Country, the black cherry is a typical and authentic element of gastronomy. The real Basque cake is made with this jam. It also goes wonderfully with Ardi Gasna, a typical Basque pure sheep's cheese.

* The black cherry from Itxassou is the best quality cherry from the Basque Country. The jam is cooked in a cauldron with ripe and fresh cherries, its quality is exceptional because there are whole fruits inside, which allows to find the acidulous taste of the fruit.

 

Basque drinks

 

If you are interested in Basque history and the objects that tell the story of the Basque country, the Basque Museum of Bayonne worth the detour !