What are Pinchos

Pinchos translation to English would be “Sticks”. And that’s because “Pinchos” are a unique kind of Tapas made in the Basque Country, which are basically a slice of bread (like a Baguette), with something in the top of it and all crossed by a toothpick. That’s why they are called “Sticks”. Easy, isn’t it?

Pincho de Tortilla, the most basic form of pincho

Pincho de Tortilla, the most basic form of pincho

What goes on the top of the slice of bread?

One could think that basic ingredients like chorizo, Jamon, Tortilla, fish, etc. The truth is, tho, that in the Basque Country (specially in San Sebastian) they take this seriously and you will find some amazing creations that  delight the most sophisticated tastes in the world. Just take a look at the winner of the National Tapas contest of Valladolid 2012: “La dama blanca vestida de negro” (The white lady dressed in black”):

Winner of the National Tapas and Pinchos contest 2012

Winner of the National Tapas and Pinchos contest 2012

Back to the “every day” pinchos, the thing with them is not only the WHAT they are, but HOW to have them. If you visit San Sebastian or Bilbao (or any Pinchos chain like “Sagardi”) you will fin them all over the bar, like this:

pinchos in a bar

When you enter in a Pinchos Bar, order your drink (usually a “Zurito” which is just 3 fingers of beer or wine, less than a “Caña”), grab a dish and serve yourself. At the end you will be asked how many pinchos you got, and trust is the rule here. Why would you lie? Some people and some bars count the remaining sticks in the dish, but, trust will always lead, and you’ll find locals dropping the sticks to the floor (and kindly paying for all the pinchos they got).

This picture is from a Sagardi bar (a Basque chain) in Barcelona, when we introduced the Pinchos culture to some good Canadian friends.

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As final tip, in other regions of Spain like Madrid, a pincho is called “Montado” or “Montadito”, and it consists of a slice of bread and something in the top, but with no stick.

Last question is… where to have them in London?

We don’t really know yet, but we’ll find out and tell you. Stay tuned Tapas lovers!

 

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