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EUSKADI: EUSKAL HERRIA - Basque Country

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Author Topic: EUSKADI: EUSKAL HERRIA - Basque Country  (Read 4565 times)
Bianca
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« on: November 28, 2008, 11:35:28 am »


             

              Seal of the Basque town of Biarritz, 1351,
              with whaling scene and two-flued harpoon.

              (http://www.whalecraft.net/History.html)











                                                          BASQUE WHALING TRADITION






This is a bit from “The Basque History of the World” by Mark Kurlansky, an excellent if somewhat nationalistic
portrait of that remarkable corner of the Iberian Peninsula. There’s a big section on whaling, from which I leave
you all:

Â


An important feature of the Basque whale was that, like the sperm whale, but unlike many whale species, it floated when dead. The whale’s back shone obsidian black in the water, though the belly was a brilliant white. Averaging about fifty to sixty feet in length, a quarter of which was the huge head, a single animal could weigh more than sixty tons. Such a whale would yield thirty tons of blubber, which could be cooked down to an oil valued for centuries as fuel. Most coastal Basque communities established facilities along their beaches for cooking down whale blubber.

As with most things Basque, it is not certain when this oil trade began, but in 670, at the end of the age of the Visigoths, there was a documented sale in northern France by Basques from Labourd of forty pots of whale oil……


……The first commercial whale hunters were the seventh- and eighth-century Basques, who found an eager market for this meat in Europe. Whale meat became a staple of the European diet partly because the Catholic Church forbade the eating of “redblooded” meat on holy days-about half the days on the calendar including every Friday-arguing that it was “hot,” associated with sex, which was also forbidden on holy days. But meat that came from animals-or parts of animals-that were submerged in water, including whale, fish, and the tail of the beaver, was deemed “cold” and therefore permitted. So with the exception of beaver tails and the occasional seal or porpoise, whale was the one allowable red meat.

The Basques became the great providers of this holy red meat. They sold the leaner meat fresh or preserved in salt. Fattier parts were cured like bacon. In Paris, where these cuts were a Lenten specialty, they were known as craspois. Tongues, fresh or salted, were regarded as a particular delicacy and served with peas. Being the choicest part, the only good part, according to some medieval writers, whale tongues were often demanded by local church or government officials as tribute.

The port of Bayonne jealously guarded its monopoly on the tongue trade.



http://www.iberianature.com/spainblog/category/basque-country/
« Last Edit: November 28, 2008, 11:44:38 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.


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