Txotx!

As those of you following my posts already know I’m taking a virtual hike across Spain and compiling a list of the words that would appear on menus, esp. items that would be hard to translate literally (i.e. with some Spanish dictionary or phone app). As I mentioned in yesterday’s post I’m approaching the town of Viana (along the route of the Camino de Santiago) and I found another restaurant that has a web presence with its menu. So I was doing some extracts and came along this interesting word that deserves its own post. Now I have never experienced any of this but I found several good articles elsewhere you can follow.

The restaurant I’m studying is Restaurante Sidrería Casa Armendáriz and its website.  At other locations I’ve previously visited I had already learned that sidrería is a type of establishment, fairly unique to Basque Country, that offers cider and cider-oriented food choices, often with MENU DE SIDRERIA separate from other menus. Here’s the basic information from that menu with the side-by-side English translation (again, courtesy Google with its usual eccentricities).

29€ + IVA.
(Minimo dos personas) (Minimum two people)

Txotx Txotx
Sidra de Astigarraga Zapiain Cider from Astigarraga Zapiain
Tortilla de Bacalao Cod omelette
Bacalao con pimientos verdes Cod with green peppers
Chuletón de 1Kg 1kg T-bone steak
Quesos de Euskal Herria Membrillo y Nueces Cheeses from Euskal Herria (Basque Country, in Basque) Quince and Nuts
Pan Casero de Viana Pan Casero de Viana

At first 29€ looked steep, but: a) it’s the price for two people, b) it includes a 1kg (35 oz, large steak!), and, c) a substantial meal with interesting courses (yum, I wish I could virtually taste).

As I parsed the translation, as usual, I focus on the words that don’t translate and/or unusual (and to my eye unlikely) translation. So first I noticed Euskal Herria and, duh, I should have recognized this as it is just the name for Basque Country in the Basque (Euskera) language. Kinda important and basic thing to know in this area. IOW, the menu items is just cheeses from Basque Country, i.e. local.

Next I noticed Astigarraga Zapiain which turns out to be easy to find.  Astigarraga is a town near San Sebastián and as this delightful article puts it “the capital of Basque sidra country”. And Zapiain is simply one of the largest sidrería (cider bar) and producers to supply other sidrería.  IOW, this is branding of the sidra (cider) on this menu.

But it’s the first item on the menu that turned out to be the most interesting: Txotx.  As I mentioned yesterday x is common in Basque words, but it also is more correct to say that tx is common and one can think of this as, roughly, ch. When I first saw txotx I (mistakenly) thought it was the same word (actually Txaka) that was difficult to translate yesterday (I think, but am not sure, it is surimi, the faux crab).

Anyway it turns out txotx is a toast, a process of consuming cider (catching a stream of cider in your glass, as some distance from the source, so it gets aerated and thus somewhat effervescent), sometimes the place where this ritual happens and then sometimes a reference to the cider itself. This article, titled “Basque Cider House Rules” explains this unique and fun tradition AND also mentions Zapiain (above) and has some great pictures (plus some interesting words in the article). And this article (including the comments), written from the POV of the cider itself has excellent information about this whole tradition. Note: I’d love to include a picture in this post to show txotx but I accept the notion that copyright applies to that webpage and I don’t violate that.

Now this is one of those things where I think doing a real hike through this area one would quickly learn BUT maybe not, so while you don’t have time to do all this research I’m doing (and being surprised) maybe my guide will help you seek out interesting adventures like this.

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