The txoko: Basque culinary culture (Berry Bros & Rudd)

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Txokos are societies dedicated to celebrating northern Spain’s extraordinary culinary and vinous heritage. Food writer Victoria Stewart reports on how these gastronomic gatherings came about and what goes on behind the societies’ (normally) shut doors

Sitting in a room that feels like the intersection of a village hall and a somewhat dated restaurant, on one side I see a group of men of all ages seated around a table and several glasses of cider. Meanwhile our crew of 10 – including food writers and two local food guides, one of whom has invited us – are opposite, passing around bottles of Txakoli, the locally made dry white wine, and platters of bright tomatoes drizzled with olive oil.

I have come to take part in a txoko (pronounced “chokko”) in San Sebastián, northern Spain. Translated as “little niche”, a txoko is a kind of gastronomic society (sociedad gastronómica in Spanish) where food and drink is a friendly vehicle for celebrating people and produce, and there are numerous examples all over the Basque region, with over 200 (containing members of up to 200) in this city alone. The food served depends on what is produced nearby – so in the case of San Sebastián there are white wines from Getaria, fish and seafood; further inland it might be red Riojas and vegetables.

To read the full story, which appeared on the Berry Bros & Rudd blog in July 2017, click here.