Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Basque region and it's official peppers

Basque Country is a small ethnic enclave located in the heart of the Pyrenees Mountains, which divide Spain and France from one another. The size of Rhode
Island, the Basque region, includes four Spanish regions, known as the South Zone, and three French speaking regions known as the North Zone. The Spanish and French Basque regions share a Union Jack–style flag (green, red, and white), cuisine, and common language (Euskara), spoken by about a half million people.

Basque cuisine is influenced by the abundance of produce from the sea on one side and the fertile Ebro valley on the other. The mountainous nature of the Basque Country has led to a difference between coastal cuisine dominated by fish and seafood,and inland cuisine; with fresh and cured meats, many vegetables and legumes,and freshwater fish and salt cod. TheFrench and Spanish influence is strong also, with a noted difference betweenthe cuisines of either side of the modern border.

Basque cuisine employs the use of not one, not two, but six varieties of pimientos, (peppers) all of which are grown locally.
The pimiento Anglet aka
Doux de Landes (Lapurdi):
The Pepper Espelette - (Lapurdi)
Gernika Pepper (Vizkaia)
The Guindillas Tolosa - Langostinos of Ibarra - (Gipuzkoa):
The Piquillo Lodosa - (Nafarroa)
The Cuerno de Cabra - (Nafarroa)

These are the "Official" Basque peppers. It took me forever to gather all of the information on them and put it all in one place. So here you go and you're welcome!

Doux de Landes (Basque Pepper)
Translates to “sweet from Landes” Also known as Piment d' Anglet. Honestly, it is the longest pepper I have ever seen. It is a sweet pepper and turns from green to red. Also from the Basque region, it is sometimes called a Basque fryer. A delicious, sweet pepper, it is used in many basque recipes including piperade. Can also be eaten fresh or sautéed. It is often roasted, peeled, and stuffed with a variety of fillings like salt cod, tuna, or cheese. Landes is in the South West of France also known as the home of Our Lady of Lourdes. I personally like to use this pepper as a fryer or diced up in my tomato salad.

Piment d’espelette (Basque pepper)
(Capsicum annuum) 85 days
Piment d'Espelette literally means “pepper of Espelette” in French. It is a food product produced around the town of Espelette in Southern France, in the region sometimes known as Basque Country. This pepper is so famous that in 1999 AOC (Appellation d'Origine Controlee), was granted to Espelette peppers, or "Ezpeletako bipera" in Basque language, giving it the same protection as more famous names, such as Champagne and Roquefort . Only ten communities are allowed to use the name Espelette.Piment d’ Espelette is most commonly strung up to dry and ground into a powder and is often used as a substitute for black pepper in the Basque country and in common Basque dishes.Once harvested, they are threaded by hand and hung on the facades of buildings to dry in the sun -- this initial process takes about two months. After being dried a second time in wood-fired ovens, the peppers are ground into a fine powder. Every October, Espelette and surrounding villages hold a festival honoring the finished product -- a celebration complete with parades, dancing and cooking competitions.
Espelette’s hotness falls between sweet bell pepper and Cayenne. It has a rich, round deep flavor with heat present, lifting flavor, but not intrusive.PIMENT d'Espelette is to French Basque cooking what curry is to Indian cuisine.

Corne De Chevre (Basque pepper)
(Capsicum annuum) 90 days
From an area in the north of Spain called Navarre. The name translates to “horn of the goat It is also called “pimiento choricero” Like the Espelette pepper, it is dried on the facades of houses. Then it is re-hydrated and pureed after removing skin and seeds to makes the paste (Carne de Pimiento Choricero). The paste is added to the making of Chorizo sausage. Furthermore, it is so popular in Spanish cooking is not uncommon to find commercially packaged in glass jars.

Gernika Pepper (Basque Pepper)
(Capsicum annuum) 90 days
Gernika or The Guernica is a Spanish pepper similar to the Padrón in flavor but bigger and without any heat, Guernica is the 'proper' Spanish spelling;
Gernika is the Basque spelling.It is often served fried like the Padrón or stuffed with cheese or other fillings. Gernika peppers are grown primarily in Vizcaya Served on a plate all their own, pimientos de Gernika are typically fried in olive oil with garlic until they’re
shriveled and slightly browned. They are finally sprinkled with a generous hand of fat salt grains. Slightly bitter, these peppers are great with steak or on their own as a ración (small plate), eaten with a cold beer.

The Piquillo Lodosa (Basque Pepper)
(Capsicum annuum) 85 days
From "Lodosa" Navarra region of Spain
It is regarded as "red gold" of Navarre. Piquillo peppers are traditionally wood fire roasted and then hand peeled ad seeded to preserve the natural taste and shape of the peppers. Known for their intense red color, wood fire aroma, fleshy texture, and sweet, delicate taste. These peppers are an exceptional addition to any plate. Great in salads, meats, seafood, or lightly sauteed and stuffed.

The Guindillas Tolosa (Basque pepper)
(Capsicum annuum) 90 days
From the Basque area of Spain known as Gipuzkoa. The guindilla is a thin pepper, picked early while it is still greenish yellow. Conserved in white wine vinegar and packaged tight like sardines in glass jars. traditionally eaten with beans or bar snacks as an aperitif.
I grew 4 of the 6 official Basque peppers this year and will be growing the other 2 next season. My next bit of research is to find out about specific tomatoes grown in the Basque region. sigh
Seeds for the four peppers I grew this year from the Basque area are available for sale at my store
whew! that was work!

1 comment:

gerry cullen said...

good site, I fell in love with p de padron and grew same in wet irish climate but will try the basque varietys this year.thanks again. gerry cullen(dublin).