Pintxos are specific to the Basque Country.
They are slices of bread with a mixture of ingredients fastened with a toothpick or small wooden skewer – pintxo, meaning spike, and which gave the food its name.
Pintxos are usually eaten as an appetizer, accompanied by either a small glass of wine – txikito, or a quarter of a beer pint – zurito.
Almost any ingredient can be put on the bread, but those most commonly found in the Basque Country include
fish such as hake, cod, or anchovy;
tortilla de patatas;
the simple yet tasty sliced baguette layered with jamón ibérico, queso de cabra (goat cheese) or anchovies;
or slices of local cheese with tomato jam.
These mixes are neither big nor small, somehow of the size of a regular sandwich, and each of the options is somewhere between 2 to 6 euros.
crab cocktail with shrimp and fish eggs
Pintxos are, actually, a way of socializing.
The habit started out just as something like an appetizer before dinner but evolved into a vibrant social culture, especially as Basque people do not usually invite people at home but celebrate almost all events in their city bars.
Now, from small cafes to Michelin stars restaurants, and from simple sandwiches to complex combinations, the pintxos mark most of the public places in the Basque country.
The traditional way of eating pintxos is known as txikiteo, a sort of pub-crawl in which a group of friends, usually men, move from bar to bar, having their small glasses of wine or txikitos to go with their small bites of delicacies while, traditionally, singing.
Pintxos can be just a simple mix or a very sophisticated small dish, sometimes consisting of very elaborate sometimes expensive fish, seafood, or meats, thus becoming what is known as miniature cuisine.
Carbón Brie – Cheese Wrapped in Poppy Seeds, Served with Tomato Jam, at Bar Ramuntxo in Donostia – San Sebastián.
Hamburguesa de tomate – tomato burger with marinated cod fish and caramelized onion, atBergara, Donostia – San Sebastián. The place opened in 1950 and the chef’s creations won several culinary contests and championships for the best pintxo of the year.
Meson Martín is run by brothers Martín since 1996, the place has got that nice cozy atmosphere of a bar with regular customers. One can try here from a simple snack, like a bocadillito de jamón, to exquisite tastes – a shrimp skewer or a small aubergine filled with rice and vegetables in tomato sauce.
The photos were taken in Donostia – San Sebastian, Gipuzkoa, in 2015.