We had heard or read about txokos and we had seen quite a few of these slightly mysterious Basque men’s gastronomic societies or eating clubs in our wanders around Hondarribia and San Sebastián. But they remained a wee bit of a mystery to us, as they appeared almost impossible to get into without some form of invitation. We came so close in our first month or so here when, by sheer accident, we stumbled into a group of chatty txoko folks round the corner from our flat. Once we made it clear that: (a) we lived in Hondarribia proper, in the Casco Antiguo and (b) we really liked our food & wine, a convivial older hombre said a visit just might be arranged. But nada happened…
Until my wonderful Spanish teacher Gloria came through, once again, with a special Spanish opportunity. Gloria’s mate Andoni (and sweet partner Carmen) is a member of the Club Nautico Hondarribia which is not only a full on sailing club & school (with fishing too), but also a txoko, with a splendid port side club space with great views of the marina.
Txokos have been around in the Basque Country for more than 100 years and got their start as places where the fishermen & workers could bond & chat & tell stories over food & drink. They have been pretty much 100% male up until a few years ago when a few opened up their doors to women – only to eat though, as all the cooking is usually done by the men folks (Andoni’s txoko allows women in the kitchen).
Boy, it’s a lot of fun folks! Andoni’s txoko, like all txokos, has a top notch professional if not better kitchen which is shared amongst the members (you need to reserve a space). You bring all your required meal ingredients but the txoko also has a bar for beer, wine, cider & soft drinks (you can also bring in your own bebidas). It is a serious social affair – muchas familias were there that day, cooking & drinking up a storm & chattering away. The table just behind us was having a grand old time post draining half a dozen bottles of Moët bubbles, which is when the boisterous singing began…and we left.
So a big muchas gracias to Andoni, Carmen, Gloria and Bernard for an estupendo time! So if you are ever in the Basque Country and somehow manage to wrangle a txoko invite – GO!