BUBER'S BASQUE PAGE
Ongi Etorri! What started out as a personal homepage has grown
to a site that contains nearly 1000 pages and receives over 16,000
hits per day. The popularity of this site is a testament to all of
those who have contributed to this site. Eskerrik asko!
I am always looking to improve the site. If you would like to
contribute, please contact me.
Enjoy your visit.
Archive for the ‘History’ Category
Sunday, January 20th, 2013
My wife’s grandmother’s cookbook had this clipping from a newspaper, probably from Salmon, Idaho. Anyone know roughly when this would be? There was no date in the saved clipping.
Baking your own Sheepherder’s Bread
Many Basques still enjoy baking the dome-shaped loaves of sheepherder’s bread at home, like Anita Mitchell. She gave us her recipe that won the bread-baking championship at the National Basque Festival last year. Her updated method for baking in a conventional oven is more reliable than the old way of baking in a pit that you see at right (picture not included).
You’ll need a 10-inch cast iron or cast aluminum covered Dutch oven (5-quart size); for pit-baking, it should have a bale (wire handle) and be well seasoned.
- 3 cups very hot tap water
- 1/2 cup butter, margarine, or shortening
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- About 9 1/2 cups all purpose flour, unsifted
- Salad oil
In a bowl, combine the hot water, butter, sugar, and salt. Stir until butter melts; let cool to warm (110 to 115 degrees). Stir in yeast, cover, and set in a warm place until bubbly, about 15 minutes.
Add 5 cups of the flour and beat with a heavy-duty mixer or wooden spoon to form a thick batter. With a spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour (about 3 1/2 cups) to form a stiff dough. Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Turn dough over in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a a warm place until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down dough and knead on a floured board to form a smooth ball. Cut a circle of foil to cover the bottom of the Dutch oven. Grease the inside of the Dutch oven and the underside of the lid with salad oil.
Place dough in the pot and cover with the lid. Let rise in a warm place until dough pushes up the lid by about 1/2 inch, about 1 hour (watch closely).
Bake, covered with lid, in a 375 degree oven for 12 minutes. Remove lid and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from oven and turn loaf out (you’ll need a helper) onto a rack to cool. Makes 1 very large loaf.
A poignant camp custom: Before serving, a herder would slash the sigh of the cross on top of the loaf, then serve the first piece to his invaluable dog.
Friday, January 18th, 2013
A pidgin, according to Wikipedia, is “a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common.” That is, when two new groups come into contact and they can’t communicate, they begin create a new language that is some hybrid of the two.
The Basques were known for their seafaring and wide travels. During these travels, they certainly met many peoples with whom they did not share a common language. For example, there is some evidence that the Basques developed a pidgin language with the native inhabitants of the North American coast where they had gone for whales. In fact, this is the oldest known example of a pidgin in North America, with the Basques developing a common pidgin language with the Micmacs and the Montagnais. Interestingly, in this pidgin language, when the Basques asked the locals how they were, they would respond “apaizak hobeto”, or “the priests are better.”
Another very interesting pidgin involving Euskara is with the Icelanders. In roughly the 17th century, as the Basques were exploring the Atlantic for fishing opportunities, they found their way to Iceland, another place where they had no common language. Actually, the Basque-Icelandic pidgin is a complex mix of a number of languages that these two disparate groups of people used to communicate. Interestingly, the Icelanders documented this pidgin and the Basque-Icelandic glossaries are now online for all to browse.
Apparently, the Basques had a long history in Iceland, essentially competing with the locals for fishing resources. This lead to a number of violent encounters. This incident, again from Wikipedia but originally described by Jón Guðmundsson the learned, gives a flavor for what kind of things were going on:
In the 17th and 18th centuries Basque whalers hunted in Icelandic waters. Despite any mutually beneficial results, in 1615, a crew of 32 shipwrecked and stranded Basques were executed by Icelanders. Jón Guðmundsson condemned the local sheriff for this decision in his account of the event.
The glossary has a number of colorful phrases. Let me just mention one. In a recent paper by Viola Giulia Miglio, Dr. Miglio reanalyzes the glossary and points out a phrase that had previously eluded translation. The phrase is Sickutta Samaria – serda merina. The meaning of the second phrase, Icelandic, had been clear — defile the mare — but the Basque had not been translated. Dr. Miglio proposes the first word is xikotu and that the phrase, in a more polite translation, means go shag a horse. Sailors have always had a reputation for colorful language and Basque sailors are no exception.
A more complete bibliography specifically on the Basque-Icelandic pidgin can be found at Euskosare. I first heard about these pidgins a number a years ago when I encountered the work of Peter Bakker.
Wednesday, January 16th, 2013
January 20. The day that the entire populace of the city of Donostia-San Sebastian stop what they are doing and have a massive street party that lasts until dawn. Donostia, the most beautiful city that I’ve had the fortune and pleasure to visit. January 20, the day that the city of Donostia stops and celebrates my birthday.
Ok, maybe that’s not quite right. Oh, it is true that the city celebrates the entire night, with roving bands dressed as chefs and others drumming, wielding larger-than-life spoons and forks. It’s probably where I did my first gaupasa, though it’s hard to be sure — gaupasak are often a little fuzzy. But I do remember that the Parte Vieja was probably one of the most exciting places during one of the most exciting events I’ve ever been to.
But, it is a bit of an exaggeration to say that, every year on January 20, Donostia celebrates my birthday.
Rather, January 20 is the feast day of San Sebastian, the obvious patron saint of, er, San Sebastian. La Tamborrada (Danborrada in Euskara) has its origins in locals mocking foreign soldiers in the city, marching around the city banging on things like drums (according to the ever reliable Wikipedia).
Just in time for those of you longing to experience La Tamborrada from far away, or wanting to reminisce past gaupasak in the Parte Vieja, or just interested in the history of this glorious event, a book has just been released honoring and celebrating this fiesta. Tamborrada-Danborrada, by Mikel G. Gurpegui and Javier Mª Sada, delves into the history of La Tamborrada, including describing all of the companies that wander the streets throughout the night. For those of us who can’t actually join in the festivities, this is a suitable substitute.
Whatever excuse all of those people have for celebrating the entire night of January 20, I hope that a few of them raise a glass in honor of my birthday
Friday, September 14th, 2012
I’m a little behind, as usual, but I wanted to bring to everyone’s attention two articles that recently appeared about the Basques in the American West.
The first, Herding Sheep in Basque Country (Idaho), appeared in the New York Times last month and describes the Basque sheepherding experience via a chat with Henry Etcheverry, a herder in the Minidoka desert near Rupert, Idaho. The author, John O’Connor, spends some time with Jauna Etcheverry in the desert, checking on the sheep herds. O’Connor describes a bit of the history of the Basque sheepherding experience as well as the Basque culture of Boise.
My dad and my mom’s grandparents all came to the American West — a little further west than Minidoka, to the Jordan Valley, Oregon area — precisely to herd sheep. My dad originally came on a 3-year contract and made enough money to buy an apartment in Gernika. He was asked to return to the US and, during this second stint, met the granddaughter of other Basque immigrants. The rest, as they say, is history.
The article makes a point of noting that the new generation of herders are from Peru. My dad has sort of taken under his wing, so to speak, some of the Peruvian herders where he lives. One Christmas, some of these guys came over for dinner. I was talking to them and one mentioned that he was trained as an engineer in Peru, with a Bachelor’s degree. He was in the US because he could make more money as a sheepherder in Idaho than as an engineer in Peru. This simply amazed me.
Jauna Etcheverry mourns the end of the Basque shepherd, but, as he points out, his kids and the kids of other Basques simply don’t want to do that work. And this, to me, embodies the American dream. His kids, my dad’s sons, and many of the other Basque kids I know were taught to value education and hard work. Those kids built upon the foundation their parents built, working long days and months in the hills herding sheep, driving truck or working the farm. They made a better life for themselves, a direct consequence of the drive their parents had to make a better life for themselves. To me, this is the essence of the American dream, to be able to make a better life. The opportunity to do that for me and others like me was provided by these Basque immigrants.
The second article, 5 Basque American spots in Western U.S., by Bob Cooper in a July issue of the San Francisco Chronicle, focuses on another legacy of Basque immigration, the Basque restaurants that dot the American West. That these often family-style restaurants are popular is evidenced by how many comments and queries I get about Charley Shaffer’s Basque Restaurant List. Cooper picks 5 spots, scattered between Idaho, California, and Nevada, where you kind find a taste of the Basque-American sheepherder experience. The oldest on his list, the Noriega Hotel in Bakersfield, was, like many of these, a boarding house before it became a more traditional restaurant.
Not that these restaurants are traditional in an American sense. Often family-style, you sit at a large table, often next to strangers, and the food is brought out not as individual servings, but in big bowls and plates that are passed around. This is a great way to meet new people and sample foods you might be a little shy about, since you are committing your entire meal to a new dish. I’ve only had the luck to try a few such places, but every one has been a great experience.
Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
When we last saw Joanes and his crew, they had made their first successful whale hunt. Part 2 of Joanes or the Basque Whaler, Whale Island, picks up with the rewards of that hunt. And, along with the rewards, come the price of success as Joanes begins to overstep his abilities as he sees greater glory.
This is the second part of Guillermo Zubiaga’s epic about what he refers to as the Basque wild west, the adventures of the Basque whalers. The men who dared all to sail the seas and cross the oceans, looking for opportunity. It is the same spirit that sent their descendants to the American West, sometimes in conflict with the American cowboys, to find new opportunities.
As before, Guillermo tells his tale primarily through his fantastically detailed art. From the various ships sailing the seas to the cobblestone streets of a Basque village to the whale rendering station on the coast of America, Guillermo’s attention to detail brings the story to life. His faces convey the emotion to pull the story along, especially as the Basque crew encounter the unknown in first America and then the fantastic.
The story moves fast, from the first kill of Joanes and his crew to their encounter with the natives of North America and to the climax of this issue when Joanes confronts the killer black whale. There is just enough mystery to keep the story engaging and Guillermo makes judicious use of historical facts to ground this fictional story in real Basque history.
This is a great sequel to Guillermo’s first issue The Flying Whaleboat. I greatly look forward to the conclusion in issue three.
I have two items on my wish list for Guillermo. First, it would be awesome for him to do a “Handbook of Basque Mythology,” similar in vein to the old superhero handbooks. Even one issue with the primary deities of the Basque pre-Christian religion would be wonderful.
Second, I would love to see a commentary track for Joanes, with Guillermo describing his inspiration for various scenes and people, where references images might be from, and what historical documents he is pulling from. I think it would make a great addition to an already wonderful story.
Friday, July 20th, 2012
Late last year, I posted about To Say Goodbye, a film by Izaskun Arandia detailing the evacuation of Basque children during the Spanish Civil War. Izaskun has interviewed a number of these children, now adults, as part of the documentary. The film is about half way finished and she hopes to premier it at the San Sebastian Film Festival this September.
Towards that end, the film needs further funding and Izaskun has started a second crowdfunding campaign. Here’s a link to the funding effort and a little teaser clip of the animation.
Thursday, May 24th, 2012
I’ve decided on a new resolution, not for New Year’s, but regarding my visits to Euskal Herria. The thing is, I visit, I spend a lot of time with my dad’s family which I of course greatly enjoy, I see some friends (though not nearly all of them), and I come home. I don’t end up seeing anything I hadn’t seen before in terms of the cities, the countryside, museums, or anything else. So, I’ve decided to make an effort that, each time I visit, I see at least one new place.
I was in Euskal Herria during Semana Santa and, following up on my resolution, I went to see Pasai Donibane. With a good friend, Gontzal Aranguren, we left Donosti and drove to Pasai, which is actually a collection of neighborhoods on the outskirts of Donosti. This area is the big port of Donosti, with massive ships coming and going (though we didn’t see any enter or leave the port, there were ships docked in the port). To get to Pasai Donibane, you have to pay a man 1 euro to take a small boat across the water to the other side, where Pasai Donibane looks back towards Donosti.
Pasai Donibane is sometimes referred to as the “little Basque Venice.” This, of course, overstates things, as nothing really compares to Venice itself, but it has its own charm. We got there pretty early in the morning and followed a small path outside of the village up the hillside overlooking both the port and the ocean. Not an overly long hike, but it does go up a bit in elevation relatively quickly. The views were magnificent! We then hiked back to Pasai Donibane and walked around a bit. Being early in the morning, not much was open, but the streets, if you could call them that, were glistening with water, reflecting the colors of the apartments overhead. The cobblestone streets barely allowed one car through — there are more than one corner where side mirrors have worn groves into the buildings. If two cars tried to go in opposite directions down the main thoroughfare, one had to back up to an opening in the road to let the other pass.
An interesting historical note about Pasai Donibane: Victor Hugo, of Les Miserables fame, spent some time here in 1843 while traveling in Spain. Some say he was inspired to write Les Miserables while staying in Pasai Donibane, overlooking the nearby Pasai San Pedro and Pasai Antxo, which were more industrial. It isn’t clear if this is some apocraphical story or if there might be some truth in this claim. In any case, as anywhere else, Pasai Donibane has capitalized on this brief encounter with history by establishing the “Victor Hugo Etxea“, or Victor Hugo House, which is a small museum that describes his stay. It was closed when we were there, but for the history buff, it might be worth a quick visit. What is clear is that Hugo wrote his Voyage aux Pyrenees while living in Pasai Donibane.
Pasai Donibane is also known for some good seafood restaurants. Again, being there early in the morning, we didn’t take advantage, but it might be the perfect place to spend a romantic evening for two, overlooking the water with the bright lights of Donosti in the background.
Pasai Donibane is no Venice, but it has its own charm. The brightly painted apartments crammed between the hillside and the waterfront plus the breathtaking vistas from the nearby hills are a combination that is truly spectacular.
A history note of interest to Americans: it was from Pasai Donibane that Lafayette set sail for America to aid the Americans against the British during the American Revolution.
Sunday, March 18th, 2012
Anyone who has been to the Basque Country and visited any of the villages that dot the coast and the valleys between those peaks shrouded in mythology certainly knows the importance of the fronton to the Basque people. The plaza of most any town is often surrounded by the three corner-stones of Basque life: the Church, the tavern, and the fronton. I know best the one in my dad’s home town of Munitibar. Festivities may always begin with a mass at the Church, but they always center on the fronton, either a game of pelota or animal tests or a bertsolari contest. The fronton is the public space in which life happens.
The Basques who immigrated to the US brought their games with them. And, the fronton. A wonderful open-air fronton sits in my mom’s home town, Jordan Valley, Oregon. But, the oldest is in Boise. In fact, the fronton in Boise is probably one of the oldest sporting venues in the US. Like Wrigley Field in Chicago, it will turn 100 in 2014. The Jacobs-Uberuaga boarding house will turn 150 the same year. The Basque community in Boise is gearing up to celebrate these milestones, important not only in the history of Boise Basques, but Basques in the US as a whole. The fronton endures, just as the Basques have endured.
I personally am not overly familiar with Boise’s fronton. I may have stepped foot in it once as a kid. However, both Mark Bieter and Henar Chico have written wonderful testimonies about the role the Boise fronton has played in their lives. Mark describes the history of the fronton and how, to pelota players in the US, it is sort of the Wrigley Field of pelota. Henar, a newer resident of Boise, has become an aficionado of the fronton and the pala leagues that are very active. The fronton has become a very important part of her life in Boise. Both paint a picture, both past and present, of a building that has served as the cornerstone of the Boise Basque community for nearly 100 years. And, knowing the Basques, will likely be standing strong for another 100 years.
Sunday, November 20th, 2011
I’m trying to get caught up on my email and am finally getting to some news that I should have shared months ago… My apologies to those who alerted me to these.
First, a little-known but interesting side story to the history of the United States. During the time that the fledgling country was developing its constitution, John Adams, later the second President of the US, was sent to Europe. During his trip, he made it to the Basque Country, and was suitably impressed, stating that “In a research like this, after those people in Europe who have had the skill, courage, and fortune, to preserve a voice in the government, Biscay, in Spain, ought by no means to be omitted. While their neighbours have long since resigned all their pretensions into the hands of kings and priests, this extraordinary people have preserved their ancient language, genius, laws, government, and manners, without innovation, longer than any other nation of Europe. Of Celtic extraction, they once inhabited some of the finest parts of the ancient Boetica; but their love of liberty, and unconquerable aversion to a foreign servitude, made them retire, when invaded and overpowered in their ancient feats, into these mountainous countries, called by the ancients Cantabria…” In recognition of this connection, Bilbao recently (recently being March…) installed a bust of John Adams. If you read Spanish, you can read about it here.
Basque literature doesn’t have a long history, with Basque being a written language only recently, and only standardized (in the form of Batua) in the last 50 or so years. However, given that delayed start, Basque literature has really matured. And thus the website basqueliterature.com, which is a portal in which “you will find information about different aspects of Basque literature: a brief history of Basque literature, catalogues about Basque writers, works and their translations, interesting links (institutional, academic, literary…) or news about Basque literature.”
Sunday, November 13th, 2011
Izaskun Arandia is an award-winning Scriptwriter, Script-consultant and Producer. With an MA in Screenwriting from the prestigious Bournemouth Screen Academy she has extensive experience and her scripts have been made into short films produced by the BBC amongst others.
She wrote and produced “If I Wish Really Hard” which has recently won Best European Film With Social Content” at the 2011 Eurofilm Festival and she is a full member of the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain and the Basque Scriptwriters’ Association.
Izaskun is producing the animated film “To Say Goodbye.”
“To Say Goodbye” is a compelling, emotional and dramatic feature-length animated documentary set against the brutal backdrop of the Spanish Civil War.
It blends frank and heartbreaking interviews from the last survivors of one of Europe’s most tragic yet neglected stories with vivid classical and 3D animation to tell the little-known story of the 4,000 Basque children evacuated from the port of Bilbao to England in 1937.
Originally these children were told they were only going away for three months.
But as we approach the 75th Anniversary of the evacuation, some remain in England, forever separated from their families and their homelands and, often, deprived of the chance to ever see their parents again.
It is through interviews with these children, now all in their 80s and 90s, that the story of the evacuation of the Basque children following the bombing of Guernica in 1937 will be told.
We never see these interviewees, it is simply their words that form the story; first-hand memories that remain fresh and emotional as they recall the on-set of the Spanish Civil War, how it affected their lives in the Basque Country, the disappearances of friends and family, the agonising decision made by their parents to send them away, and the despair shown on the quayside in Bilbao as they had to bid farewell to their parents for the final time.
They describe the horrendous boat crossing to England and then life in the camps in the south of England, all the while hoping and expecting to return home to their parents. They reveal how weeks turned into months and then into years and describe how false hopes, deceit and deception ensured 250 of them would never return and never see their parents again, destined to remain in England for the rest of their lives.
And throughout, their stories are illustrated with memorable and striking animation depicting in stylised imagery their emotions, their journey, and their memories, to form an animated feature-length documentary unlike any seen before.
“To Say Goodbye” is a documentary that presents the final opportunity for those who lived through this harrowing and tragic event to tell their story and to to remind us of a period in history that should never be forgotten.
To help support “To Say Goodbye,” visit their Kickstarter website.
- Morris Student Plus, a great online Basque-English dictionary. There is a print version too.
- EITB24 is the best source for news
from the Basque Country in English.
- Astero is NABO's free Basque news & information service, brought to you by John Ysursa.
- Enciclopedia Auñamendi, the Basque online encyclopedia with entries on every Basque topic imaginable.
Gaurko Esaera Zaharra
Proverb of the Day
Harri ibiliak goroldiorik ez, erle uxatuak aberaskarik ez
A rolling stone gathers no moss; and a bee that scares easily builds no honeycomb.