What Basque Cooking Is About

It has been hot in South Florida this past few days, reminding us that the cool weather that I love so much is leaving us soon. Mornings are still cool, but temperatures soared into mid to high 80s during the day.

This is the peak of growing season. It was really noticeable when I visited Robert and Paula at their farm Sunday afternoon. I had to get my weekly eggs and say hello to the baby goats and chickens.

Their tomatoes were ripening, the squash were also ready to be harvested and all the herbs were flowering. All this warmth and abundance of produce put us in the summer spirit.

“What do you want to have for lunch?” mom asked after breakfast. You see, this is how it goes in our family. We finish one meal, clean up, and start thinking about the next one. Is this normal?

“Let’s stop at Whole Foods after the farmers’ market and see what kind of fish they have today” I told her.

When we arrived, we picked up a whole yellow-eyed snapper. Fresh as can be. “Why don’t we make your fish soup? I would love that”. We smiled and proceeded with local clams, mussels, and Key West pink shrimp. I was anxious to get home and start cooking.

While my mom was busy in the kitchen making the fish stock, prepping all the vegetables, and also cooking a batch of arroz con leche, Miren and I ate a bowl of heirloom cherry tomatoes with olive oil and sea salt.

We went outside to look at the flowering herbs and our wild strawberry plant. There is one ripe strawberry at the moment. I think I will wait one more day to pick it. There are some more ripening and there is such anticipation in the family. They are nature’s candy for sure.

When we came back inside, dad took over baby watching duties. By the time I walked into the kitchen, mom had the arroz con leche cooling and the fish soup ready. “I’m waiting for you to take photos so I can add the fish into it!”. She’s amazing. So efficient. And well, me?… procrastinating.

But I did manage to make a quick galette with leftover dough from the book shoot. Tossed together strawberries, rhubarb, apple, sugar, and chamomile leaves to make a super simple filling. By the time I photographed the soup, the galette was ready.

“Mahaire!” I shouted to get my dad’s attention who was still bird watching with Miren. Lunch was served.

And so when people ask me what Basque cooking is all about I say, “taking what is available and fresh, and preparing it as simply as possible”. No big fuss. Knowing how to pick the best ingredients, how to smell the fish and look into their eyes to see how old it is… That is what Basque cooking is about.

All the credit for these dishes goes out to my mom who keeps us nourished and well fed during this crazy time for me. I’m not sure what I would do without her.

Eskerrik asko amatxu.

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92 Responses to “What Basque Cooking Is About”

  1. A lovely post! I really like your luminous pictures and delightful creations. That galette looks delicious.



  2. Beautiful photos, Aran! I’m so excited for the snow to melt so our growing season can begin in MN! Have a great day!

  3. Just beautiful pictures! It Sounds nice living is south Florida!!

  4. “We finish one meal, clean up, and start thinking about the next one. Is this normal?”
    Of course it is. Well, if you’re Greek it is, and apparently if you’re Basque too :)

  5. Gorgeous post, i love talking food with my mum!
    those tomatoes in olive oil are making me drool. just yesterday while sittting on watching bad tv, an image of me eating tomatoes from the vine, oh how i can not wait for the bounty of summer!

  6. Stephanie says:

    This looks fabulous! I’ve been silently reading your blog for months now, drooling over the photos but never commenting. I just can’t hold back any longer!! I want to eat all those pictures! :)

  7. Abbie says:

    Wow, I love how simple and yet completely and utterly delicious all of these meals look! My family are the same, we think about the next meal as soon as we finish breakfast! :)

    Xx abbie xx

  8. su says:

    Precioso post! y si, siempre pensando que vamos a preparar para la siguiente comida, muchas veces incluso estamos comiendo un plato estupendo y hablando de como se cocina otro… mmmm que rica esa sopa de pescado. Muxu bat

  9. Libra says:

    I LOVE your pictures! So lovely, so great!

  10. Ruth says:

    The shellfish look divine – all your photos perfect as ever. Thanks so much for the inspiration! It’s appreciated!

  11. EvaHe says:

    Gracias por tan bellas imágenes Aran

  12. Naomi says:

    Oh my goodness, your daughter’s dress is gorgeous. It reminds me of all the porcelain dishes my mom always collected.

  13. I have a girl crush on your mom.

  14. Sounds like a lovely afternoon. I really like to see the pretty pieces of material under your food shots. Beautiful light.

  15. Molly says:

    Oh what a glorious-sounding morning. I’ve only used chamomile in tea, and I am totally smitten by the idea of using it in a galette with rhubarb (hello spring!).

  16. I love the post! and the pictures are beautiful.

  17. I totally agree with what’s about the basque cooking. It’s how I cook too, just without being basque, but german ;). But I wish, we had those wonderful fruits and fish here, as you have over there in Florida. Makes me jealous. Especially when it’s captured in such beautiful photos like yours.

  18. I am always so charmed at the connection that you and your mom have. It’s beautiful. And always amazed at how you manage to have fresh food all day long.

  19. Brenda says:

    Truly beautiful photos! I like your definition of Basque.


  20. shari says:

    Ha ha… well, I think even in my family, we go from one meal to thinking about the next! My mom is Chinese, and she’s told me that her addiction is shopping… for groceries!

    I love your photos… they’re beautiful and feel so relaxed. You just need to dive into your own photos for space to breathe… hang in there!!


  21. A strawberry galette – that’s it! I bought 2 kilos of strawberries at a stand yesterday to make a chocolate strawberry cake for my chocolate blog, but ran out of time yesterday to make the cake and photograph it, so it will have to wait until next weekend. But what to do with all of these strawberries? a quick strawberry galette.

  22. Beautiful – what a lovely day with the best of what sustains us.

  23. Dana says:

    Such a great and lovely post! I enjoyed the story and can’t wait for your book!!! xo

  24. Gorgeous post, Aran! I definitely like what you described as Basque cooking. Everything look so fresh, colourful, simple and nourishing!

  25. Sounds like Breton cooking too. I can’t wait to get to Brittany and eat fresh fish and really local produce, trickier to manage in London! Beautiful, beautiful photos, what a wonderful blog. Thank you Jude

  26. I need to live somewhere warm. Inspiring pics.

  27. cindy* says:

    lovely aran! everything looks so tasty and fresh! i envy your floridian growing season :)

  28. Amazing ideas, amazing produce and amazing photos… as always. A real joy to read.

  29. It’s funny you said that because I was thinking about the same thing the other day – is it normal that once I’ve finished cleaning one mess in the kitchen I am soon making another one? ;-) I’m intrigued by Basque cuisine and was just reminded I had a Basque lecturer at uni! He had the most interesting stories and perspectives to share.

  30. Lovely post and great photos!

  31. Aran,

    This all looks so wonderful and refreshing. Us northerners are still waiting for these delights, but our time will come… and we will jump for joy when it does.

    Great post!


  32. Miss T says:

    that questions? about the next meal? totally normal…..
    Miss T

  33. Manderley says:

    Que fotos tan maravillosas, me encantan, creas escuela, lo sabes??

    Los platos que presentan se ven ideales, el postre los mariscos, todo.


  34. That’s what all cooking should be all about!

  35. Melissa says:

    Moms are the best! Summer looks very delicious at your house.

  36. Every time that I visit your post I get inspire immediately…I’m not a great cooker myself but mu hobby is…so I just give him the ideas and the visit to your blog and we go from there…

  37. Cris M says:

    Que lindo lo que contás! Que buenas historias de familia, que en verdad, no existen si no son alrededor de la mesa, la cocina, y obvvvvvio el arroz con leche!!! (al menos acá en Buenos Aires, es así!!!)
    Un beso, me encanta tu blog, tus recetas y tus fotos!

    Cris M

  38. Shelley says:

    What a lovely post.
    We just returned from a week in Southwest FL. It’s hard to come back to MN cold weather after that. We had a wonderful time.

  39. a. maren says:

    oooo gorgeous! i especially love the look of that galette. i am jealous of your warm temperatures too! i guess oregon will catch up soon enough though, although it will probably never quite compete with south florida!


  40. Su says:

    Fabulous pictures… and that gallete looks delicious :)

  41. Anna says:

    Oh can I please come stay with you, it’s cooling down here, I already miss the hot days, and in all honesty, the weather is perfect (so everyone keeps telling me). Your Mom is an amazing cook, i love it, how great are moms? We are the same in our household, finish one, start thinking about the next one. LOL!

  42. Can I borrow your mum for a while?
    I’m joking of course; my mum is equally awesome when it comes for caring for everyone and doing a zillion things :)

  43. Ishita S. says:

    Wow, that galette looks gorgeous. You’re so lucky to have a strawberry plant right in your backyard — a luxury I can only dream about here in New York City!

    Also, be thankful that at least your family waits until after the first meal is finished to begin discussing the next. In my family, it’s routine to talk about what we’ll have for dinner during lunch …

  44. marti says:

    ! agreed 100% !
    retweeting this to our BasqueStage followers….
    too bad you aren’t eligible to come cook with Martín and David…they would love to have you ;)

  45. c says:

    Am I the only one who couldn’t help thinking that must have been an expensive soup? Of course, I’m sure in the Basque culture a greater proportion of one’s income is spent on food.

  46. Marti- I wish! I did cok on David’s show last summer and I hope he has me on again this summer when I go back home. Thanks for the RT.

    C- You are right about Basque people spending a lot on food! So true! But also this wasn’t terribly bad. All the fish was local so it was a good deal. We also bought the whole fish and had the fishmonger fillet it for us, so it turned out not too bad.

    Since my mom made the soup, I will have to ask her again for all the proportions. I have made it myself before but she has her own tricks. Then I will post it.

    Thank you!

  47. Anonymous says:

    Mosu handi bat danori. Ni.

  48. Nedj says:

    Zer gauza hain ederrak !!

    Eta zer plazera neretako euskaldun ezaguntza bat izaitea gure herritik kanpo bizi dena !

    Ikus arte otoi

  49. Your pictures are beautiful. I enjoyed finding your blog

  50. I am really looking forward to your book, I’d buy it just for the photos but having your recipes in hand will be wonderful

  51. Zoë says:

    Your photos are always spectacular and I am always jealous of your dishes and textiles. I would never think to add chamomile flowers to a dessert. Lovely.

  52. Shelby says:

    What a brilliant summation of Basque cooking. Brilliant, beautiful and delicious in all of it’s simplicity. I love the coziness of your family weekends, thank you for this lovely post!

  53. Natashia says:

    Being Italian, my family is exactly the same! As we eat one meal, we think about the next.. food always on the mind.


  54. what a lovely post! we adore your pictures!

  55. That strawberry tart looks delicious. Recipe please!

  56. Ahhh, heirloom tomatoes! I have my heirloom tomato seedlings going now and can’t wait to plant outside in May. I’m jealous of your growing season. Tomatoes with oil and fleur de sel – a perfect, simple snack. Or often in my household it becomes a meal with some crusty bread.

  57. My family is always thinking about the next meal. We talk about tomorrow’s dinner at today’s lunch!

  58. K{IR}STEN says:

    I think I could eat your photos! Such deliciousness!

  59. Love the photo with the little girl and the flowers! She is almost as delicious as the food looks!

  60. Inés says:

    Aran…nola gozatzen dut Mirentxuren argazkiaz! Eta zein soineko politak ditu berak…! Beno berriro milesker zuen sarreragatuik…eta amarik gabe ez genuke ezer egingo ezta inor izango…beraiek ekarri gaituzte eta paradisura..

  61. acabo de empezar con esto de los blogs de cocina y estoy impresionada de la cantidad que hay, y acabo de descubrir el tuyo! qué maravilla! me acabo de enamorar! además de Bilbao como yo!!

  62. gourmet says:

    Great pictures, delicious composition!

  63. .sa says:

    I love reading your blog and am working my way through all the delicious recipes.
    I have been trying to figure out what it is specifically I like so much about your photos- and I think I know what it is. They are all full of sunshine :)

  64. lipsus says:

    Ay, las amas… qué sería de nosotros sin ellas??? Estoy superenganchada a tu blog. Felicidades de nuevo por tu trabajo. Para cuándo el libro? Tengo unas ganas tremendas de tenerlo entre manos. Por cierto, hoy he estado comiendo en Bilbao y hacía un día fantástico, un solito, … y además hemos comido genial! (cómo no)
    Great pics, great dishes, keep on inspiring us.
    No sé como se dice felicidades en euskera, pero eso, felicidades!

  65. This is all beautiful. You seem like the kind of person that makes everything beautiful.

  66. Natasha says:

    Thank goodness for our moms! My mama makes a lovely arroz con leche, I must make a batch with her, this weekend perhaps!
    Everything here is so gorgeous, thanks for always inspiring.

  67. Ilke says:

    It is so nice to have family around, especially from overseas! All of a sudden I realize that I do not want them to leave , because everything is in such good harmony with them around me! Lovely pictures as usual! Enjoy your family time!

  68. Hello,

    I absolutely love your pictures, and the Gallette looks particularly amazing. The whole post has given me a feel of those special summer days when everyone is at peace – thanks for that!

  69. ChichaJo says:

    Simple but certainly delicious judging from these stunning photos! This made me smile as my mom also makes arroz con leche and I too feel the “nourishing” every time she cookes :)

  70. Elena T says:

    Looks so delicious and I love strawberries.

  71. The mussels and cherry tomatoes look fabulous. I really enjoy the fresh colors that appear with the change of seasons.

  72. What a beautiful, beautiful day. And 3 generations of girls foraging for springtime food and cooking up feasts.

  73. I know you must be tired of me saying this…but you have the most beautiful blog! It always takes me away to somewhere else. I have to make that rustic tart. It looks phenomenal!

  74. illanique says:

    hi aran. your work is to die for. Always feel inspired after leaving your blog.im a food stylist from south africa :) http://www.illaniquevanaswegen.com

  75. Lucia says:

    Todo increible. Nunca la sencillez habia sido tan sugerente y apetecible….Enhorabuena por todo. Saludos desde Valencia.

  76. zer0gluten says:

    Tu comida es increíble, pero la que está para comérsela es la pequeña, qué lo sepas!

  77. El says:

    I think I’d love Basque country for many reasons but especially for fresh, simply prepared food. Just beautiful.

  78. just found your blog, everything looks so delectable! j’adore!

  79. This is a beautiful blog. your pictures are eloquent and your writing was wonderful. Thank you for such a clean fresh site. My peach trees are getting close I can’t wait.

  80. Mireya says:

    My husband’s family is from León, Spain; I learned so much about cooking and enjoying the pleasures of food there. It surprised me at the beginning how most Spanish cookbooks didn’t use exact measurements, like cups, or teaspoons –though nowadays they do. As a result, it seems that many cooks in Spain are good at cooking by tactile feeling. It’s great.

  81. I love your pictures, they are making me so hungry and I’m really craving a galette now with strawberries and rhubarb. Sigh!…but a fairly pleasant sigh. :)

  82. karen says:

    i do the same thing with fish. looking at the eyes help one tell how good it will be. this is learning from my mother, who also has basque ancestry. thanks for the ideas and the wonderful photos, as always.

  83. Sini says:

    Well I can remember how I already as a kid always kept asking at dinner “What will we have tomorrow?”. Maybe it’s a foodie thing…

    Wonderful pictures. Makes me crave for strawberries!

  84. I am so excited for early summer cooking after reading your post. Thank you for your ideas! Spring has not yet sprung here in NYC, but I’m looking forward to cooking some of these dishes in a few months.

  85. Wow, this all looks divine. Especially that fish soup.. I could really go for that! xxxx

  86. Seriously one of my favorite things to do in the morning is to look at your exquisite photography. Absolutely blown away by the elegance of how you take photographs! Beautiful!

  87. Alessia says:

    wonderful pictures..I’m speechless..

  88. Junglefrog says:

    That all looks so beautiful Aran! I wish we had a little bit more of your weather over here!

  89. wonderful! I like this pictures!!!!!

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