Language Lessons: Basque & Pig Latin

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Pintxos%20in%20Bilbao.JPG RH%20wearing%20boina.JPG Roast%20suckling%20pig%20w%20tail.JPG

Only three weeks ago, it was Italian. Now, another country and two new languages. Talking about Navarra here, in the north of Spain. My hosts for this trip. A province the size of Los Angeles County, shaped like a trapezoid, sharing its northern border with southern France, then dropping like a diamond from the crest of the Pyrenees. Called Nafarroa in Basque, but resolutely unsympathetic to the Basque separatist movement. Navarra is a kingdom, they will tell you, even as the street signs are bilingual and the capital, Pamplona, has been known as Iruña since time immemorial. Basque influences abound in the daily language, notably the tx spelling for the Spanish ch.

Pintxos, for a start. Known as tapas elsewhere in Spain, it's how you start the night. (Txori, in Seattle, is a Basque-style pintxos bar.) The other evening, four of us stopped in Bilbao (which is Basque Country) for three small bites and two glasses each; the bill was under $40. So we went to two more places.

Rabo, the tail. Rabo de buey is oxtail, rabo de cochinillo asado is the tail of a suckling pig. Kinda tough, actually, though the rest is indescribably juicy and delicious.

Caña, copa, vaso, Vasco: the first is a glass of beer, specifically. The next two are glasses or tumblers or wine glasses. And the last one is, you guessed it, Basque. Pais Vasco is the Basque Country. Which, we remind you, is not Navarra.

Boina: the traditional Basque head covering, a beret. Bought mine at a souvenir shop for $10.

Barquito. A little boat. Also the piece of bread you use to mop up the last of the sauce on your plate.

Txupito: a sip. By extension, the little straight-sided glass from which you drink a shot of orujo. We'd call it a brandy or a grappa, except that the orujos we've been drinking (sorry, sipping) are much milder and sweeter than the Italian version.

Echar una siestacita: your afternoon cat nap.

1 Comment

Hi Ronald,

I loved your Basque language lessons and photo posting. It made me smile a nostalgic "vale" for Spain. I spent a year in Madrid in 2001.

I hope you're having a wonderful trip. Enjoy it while you can!

Does that mean you'll miss our salt launch party?


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This page contains a single entry by Cornichon published on November 8, 2008 8:27 AM.

Family Connections at Navarra's Bodegas Chivite was the previous entry in this blog.

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