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The right way to have pintxos in the Basque Country and how tourism is changing it

The right way to have pintxos in the Basque Country and how tourism is changing it

Aug 26th, 2018, 05:55 AM
  #21  
 
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Well, I was answering to the previous poster, saying that this traditional way is just for the young and healthy.
And I was addressing the healthy part.

Locals flee from these places, turning traditional pintxos places into tourist traps. If thatīs what visitors want, let them have it, of course!
It seemed to me that Donostia was a quintessential tourist town. Look, I really am sympathetic, but you have to be realistic. If you make your living off tourists, you shouldn't complain (too much!) when they don't act like locals (I'm not talking about some of the worst excesses). Locals may use pinxtos bars to meet up with their friends, but you can't expect tourists to have a lot of different friends in different bars. am considering moving back to the UK, and while I would like to live in Bath it gets far too many tourists for my taste and I will look elsewhere. Instead of complaining, maybe you should be glad that Donostia hasn't declined the way I hear some of the British coastal towns have. And culture is not immutable. I have read that British pubs have been closing at a great rate, and that is down to the locals, not tourists.

I thought that the place I liked in Pamplona (which I visited out of season) was a good compromise. A few tables for those who wanted to sit, but at the back, out of the way of those who wanted to stand.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 26th, 2018, 07:20 AM
  #22  
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Of course...but tourists are here just during some weeks or months of the year, and the rest of time itīs local that maintain the bars alive. If locals avoid the bars in the old quarters, what is the future of these places? Letīs pay attention to the local public and tell the visitors how the local way is, itīs what will keep the authenticity of San Sebastian. We donīt want another standardized city, traditions should count, donīt you think so?
mikelg is online now  
Aug 26th, 2018, 09:38 AM
  #23  
 
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If the tourists are only there for a few "weeks or months" why would you not go back to the bars in the old town when they have gone? The "sitting down" problem could be dealt with by not providing anywhere to sit, and I really can't see why eating two or three pinxtos in the same bar would be any more of a problem than eating one in three bars. You still have too many tourists in too small a space.
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Aug 26th, 2018, 10:22 AM
  #24  
 
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Mikelg any good bars in Bilbao where we can enjoy our pintxos standing up with a glass of txakoli?
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Aug 26th, 2018, 11:14 AM
  #25  
 
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According to the linked article, spotting a traditional pintxos establishment should not be difficult, just look for the filthiest one.
Thanks for the heads up.
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Aug 26th, 2018, 12:36 PM
  #26  
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Easy. Because we have avoided them due to their policies of pintxos in a plate, preferring tourists to locals. And having three pintxos in the same bar does not make any sense to us, as pintxos are different in every bar and the fun consists on going from place to place, not staying in the same one. Anyway, I can see itīs a cultural problem, you donīt seem to understand my point and trying to explain the local way seems difficult...
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Aug 26th, 2018, 01:50 PM
  #27  
 
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I perfectly understand the local way. I just don't see why it is incompatible with the tourist way.
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Aug 26th, 2018, 02:58 PM
  #28  
 
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Pintxos

I don't know where Thursdaysd had pintxos in Pamplona, but yes, a few of the bars have tables for sitting, inside or outside. None that I frequent have stools for sitting at the bar, certainly not places like Bar Gaucho, but there may be a few of the newer places we have yet to experience. The typical bar area is too narrow and normally very busy during pintxos time.

The pintxos culture Mikelg is referring to can be found mainly in Hondarribia and Bilbao, and in Donostia's more traditional bars, but it doesn't exist at the pintxos mills that have sprung up the last couple of years in the old quarter to accommodate the tourist, who like to have their pintxos as early as 18:00.

From what I recall, there has always been stools to sit at some bars in Bilbao, including Bacahicoa, Zuga, Cafe Bar Bilbao, and Victor Montes, and in Donostia at several places. Bar Nestor which has 1 table inside (which must reserved), but many of the bars, like those in Pamplona, don't have any stools for sitting at the bar because of a lack of space. They are just too small or narrow, like Sāltsāgorri in Bilbao and La Cuchara de San Telmo in Donostia, and most people have only one pintxo, maybe two, a glass of wine or so, and move on. At Casa Urola, one of our favorites, there are no stools at the bar, but there are a few agains the back wall and 4 tables, where we like to sit when the chef is preparting some of his specials for us to try when we're out doing pintxos with good friends.



Saltsagorri Taberna, Bilbao


Pintxos at Casa Urola, Donostia
Robert2016 is offline  
Aug 26th, 2018, 03:27 PM
  #29  
 
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I don't know where Thursdaysd had pintxos in Pamplona
I ate in the evening twice at Bodegon Sarria, and checking my blog entry I see that it had tables in front for people ordering at the counter, and a few at the back for people ordering off the menu. (see https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...with-pamplona/ ) I don't remember the name of the place I ate lunch, but it had bar stools and a separate room at the back with tables. I had wanted to eat at Bar Gaucho, but it was just too crowded. (Note, I was a late 60s female, alone.)
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Aug 26th, 2018, 06:44 PM
  #30  
 
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This seems to me analogous to the Chicago tradition of no ketchup on hot dogs. We don’t boycott hot dog stands as “culturally inauthentic” if they serve hot dogs to boorish tourists who then proceed to lace them with ketchup. Tourists can even order hot dogs with ketchup applied by the cooks and the cultural tradition remains unshattered for the locals. I am confident that the resilient Basques who have endured many atrocities can survive and prosper even when tourists eat more than one pinxto at the same bar.
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Aug 27th, 2018, 06:27 AM
  #31  
 
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You know, I don't believe that tourists have suddenly changed their eating habits. I'm sure they have been violating the "local rule" all along. The problem is that there are now too many of them. Changing their eating habits isn't going to help with that, just ask Barcelona.
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Aug 27th, 2018, 07:12 AM
  #32  
 
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I agree with Marija. Besides, if the Basques in Donostia are so keen to preserve their cultural heritage, something I would never deny them, why don't they stop lining the back streets of the old quarter with schlocky tourist shops selling espadrilles, scarves, and bad leather goods?

It's a tough call trying to balance guarding traditions and raking in euros when you have the opportunity. Most people tend to choose the latter at the expense of the former. You see it all over Europe.

I don't think most tourists who visit Donostia, myself included (and it's not as if we don't do in-depth research before visiting any place), have a clue that they are "supposed to" eat only one pintxos per bar. Why should they? And if it is really so important to the locals, then it's completely up to them to do the educating and figuring out how to preserve any traditions that are dear to them. You can't expect tourists to do that for you.
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Aug 27th, 2018, 08:16 AM
  #33  
 
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But, we can expect Fodorites to take part in the discussion and understand the frustration of "cultural assimilation".

I have a similar problem from the other side of the fence; I despise tourists who go to Spanish bull-fights as they continue their monstrous trade. But at least I recognise I'm doing so from my position of my ancestors having given up animal torture some generations ago, but for the locals it must by irritating and annoying. If the tourists began asking for more human blood to be spilled how would that be?
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Aug 27th, 2018, 08:47 AM
  #34  
 
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But, we can expect Fodorites to take part in the discussion and understand the frustration of "cultural assimilation".
I do understand it, and I am, in general, all for "when in Rome" (I am not going to start spitting because I am visiting China, nor do I expect western men to urinate in the street because they are visiting India). I just don't believe that eating more than one pinxtos in a bar is going to destroy the local culture. I do think that being swamped by tourists will, and I think that is the problem here. (I was unable to read the article in the OP as I use an ad blocker.)
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 27th, 2018, 08:58 AM
  #35  
 
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If there weren't bull fights, tourists wouldn’t go to them. It’s not like tourists bring their own bulls and matadors. Don’t blame the tourists for the greed of the organizers. Just make bullfighting illegal and enforce it.
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Aug 27th, 2018, 10:05 AM
  #36  
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In my opinion, the main problem is the massive arrival of tourists to an area that was not used to it. And then, lack of information about what pintxos are, why they are there and whatīs the right etiquette. Itīs perfectly alright not to know anything about this pintxos culture. But at the same time itīs perfectly OK for us locals to avoid these touristy bars where pintxos are not served the right way, either to visitors or to us. Then SS will turn (as itīs happening) into "another" touristy city where visitors go to the same places and they only hear their language in the places they visit. But, again...itīs perfectly fine, the video is just trying to make visitors understand the right, or better, the local, way to approach pintxos.
mikelg is online now  
Aug 27th, 2018, 11:41 AM
  #37  
 
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If they want people to watch the video they need to make it accessible to everyone.
thursdaysd is offline  
Aug 27th, 2018, 02:41 PM
  #38  
 
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I understand the difficulty of knowing the proper etiquette in a foreign establishment. I would be somewhat intimidated in a pintxos bar without knowing what the local custom is and what is expected of me. And there is nothing more that I would like than going from bar to bar sampling pintxos and socializing with local Basque people. But without a local guide, this would be highly unlikely. Also, I can not spend much time on my feet. But I would hate to miss out on the experience because sitting down is difficult or inauthentic.
Nikki is online now  
Aug 27th, 2018, 05:26 PM
  #39  
 
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But the thing is, when you go to a pintxos bar in Donostia, there is nothing at all intimidating about it.It's not as though people are rushing you out the door to go to another bar. Just go an eat all you want. You're not going to contribute to the downhfall of civilazation.
StCirq is offline  
Aug 27th, 2018, 11:19 PM
  #40  
 
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This is complicated on many levels.

First is the curse of the tourist. Locals and governments want their money as it does not require services such as schools and social welfare and only rarely involve police and fire. And it provides employment and some places tax tourist activities. Of course, there are consequences intended and otherwise.

Second, customs change from within and without. In Spain the siesta is dying in some areas, because people live in the burbs and do not want four rush hours. More couples are working, so home cooking has changed. Additionally almost all my young cousins do not live within 30 minutes of the home in which they grew up, so social activities have changed. Thus the social foundation of tapas has changed, internally.

Third, many people when they travel bring home with them and have trouble adjusting to the country they are in. This also goes for our Spanish cousins when they visit the states.

Finally as for tapas and pinxtos. As a visitor we do not know all the good places. Last visit in April/May we had tapas almost every day in lieu of larger meals. It helped keep our weight down and it was fun to try many things from the same menu. We start out by saying we are going tasca hopping and then stay at a place where we like the first dishes. It was not a crime as much as more convenience and satisfaction with the food.
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