eat. write. smile.

– three things I love to do. Come with!

Artzai Eguna – Day of the Shepherd in Ordizia

“Look at all the sheep!” exclaimed my mother, iPhone camera at the ready and mouth spread wide with a smile.

We were wandering through the narrow, hilly streets of Ordizia, a Gipuzkoan town thirty minutes southwest of San Sebastian.  Historically, Artzai Eguna– Day of the Shepherd, the Wednesday after Easter- was the day when shepherds brought their sheep from the protected low-lying grazing areas up to summer grazing land on rocky mountainsides. In modern times, Artzai Eguna is a celebration of the shepherd and the flock. It’s also the annual opening for the season of Idiazabal cheese, the tangy, rich cheese produced from sheep milk.  Most importantly, it is an opportunity to preserve local agricultural and gastronomic traditions. If Spain had a Future Farmers of America equivalent, they’d be involved.

My fellow Sammic BasqueStage scholar Elisha and I took advantage of our morning in the market.

Difficult not to purchase a kilo of each...

We sampled cheeses, cider and talo con txistorra, a corn flatbread roll-up with spicy sausage inside.  A hybrid of a quesadilla and a taquito, it’s my new favorite street food.

My parents enjoy talo con txistorra

It’s not exactly waistline-friendly, but who can resist a soft, corn tortilla wrapped around salty pork with melted cheese, plus cider to wash it all down? I’ll take two, please.

Elisha ain't scared

After marveling at dozens of corderos lechales a la brasa (spit-roasted lamb), we pushed on to the market.

Not your average barbecue...

My parents and I were amazed at the offerings; from the wood-fired breads and blood sausage, to local apples and cream-filled pastel vasco cakes, it was hard not to purchase something at every stand.

Para picar...

Zanahorias y cebolletas

Beautiful breads

Embutidos- fresh sausages from a butcher shop in Beasain

We settled on a jar of honey which I’ve been enjoying on cuajada, a fresh cheese dessert also made from sheeps’ milk. Elisha stocked up on fresh garlic, garbanzos and spring peas.

"Ponme medio kilo, por favor"

Our morning at the market in Ordizia during Artzai Eguna was priceless, both for the learning experience with traditional foods like talo and the roasted lamb, and also for the memories of exploring a European country market with my friend Elisha and my parents.

Basting the lamb with a sauce of cider vinegar, stock and oil.

San Francisco to Ordizia...


Also, many thanks to Alazne at TPT for suggesting the visit and for giving me the morning off to explore. Eskerrik Asko!

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This entry was posted on April 12, 2012 by in BasqueStage, Markets, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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