Whenever I would visit my aunt and uncle in Munitibar, when they ran the Herriko Taberna, my breakfast always consisted of a pastry, often a bollo de mantequilla, and coffee. However, in the baserris they grew up in, breakfast was very different. I can only imagine that, even if food was plentiful, ingredients were limited. In the old days, breakfasts in the Basque countryside often consisted of porridges made from cornmeal.
- One typical breakfast was morokil. Usually made from cornmeal, water and salt, it was cooked until it turned into a cream. When it is served, it is usually mixed with hot milk. In the richer houses, they made it directly with milk, making it creamer from the beginning. The paste could also be used to make what were called “hormigos” which would be served with a syrup. Here are video-recipes of morokil and hormigos. And here is a more modern twist on morokil.
- Another variant of this type of breakfast is aixe. Made in a similar way, instead of using cornmeal, aixe is made with wheat flour and sugar, and using milk instead of water. For each liter of milk, about 60 grams of flour and 300 grams of sugar were added. It was often topped off with cinnamon when served. So, it is much sweeter and considered a more special treat, often reserved for Sundays.
- Of course, similar foods are eaten all over. Way back in Roman times, they ate a similar porridge, so much so that a typical insult for Romans was “porridge eaters.” The modern Italian polenta is essentially the same type of food.
- Corn, however, is a relatively recent addition to the Basque diet, coming by way of the Americas in the 1600s. Thus, foods such as morokil weren’t part of the diet before then. Millet was one of the primary foods. In fact, one Basque word for corn, arto, used to refer to millet. Seems like the word was simply transferred to the new crop once it became plentiful.
Primary source: EuskoNews.