Ezkontzak: Why You Should Go to a Basque Wedding

A few weekends ago, Amaia and I went back up to her homeland of Euskadi to celebrate. It is wedding season and so far the gettin’s good. Our friends, Nekane and Aitor, got hitched in Orduña and are now on their lovely honeymoon in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, but before they left they were sure to throw us a big party.

Awwww

I had never been to a Spanish wedding. Apparently, despite the fact that I just went to a wedding in Spain, I still have not. The cultural and gastronomical explosion I attended was in fact a Basque wedding. And don’t you confuse the two either.  When I asked the resident experts on what the difference between the two were, I was greeted by laughter and the unanimous answer: the food.

How could I be so silly? When talking about the Basque Country, “the food” is always the answer. That or something to do with hostias.

Here is a quick rundown of the wedding:

13:30-Ceremony

14:00-Beer at the bar across from the hotel

14:15-15:30-Cocktail hour and fifteen minutes (open bar, dude!)

16:00-Food

17:00-Food

18:00-Food

18:30-Cake

19:00-Coffee

19:30-Digestif

20:00-First dance

20:15-Parents’ dance

20:30-1:30-Dance party (more open bar, dude)

The menu wasn't the only thing that got blurry that night

Luckily, I am a professional translator and will enlighten you as to how they do it in the BC.

Welcome cocktail

Plate of traditional Iberian Ham

Micuit pâté with essence of truffle served with pear and pumpkin compote

Traditional consommé with garnish (read: Iberian Ham bitlits, egg bitlits and itty bitty croutons)

Langoustines a la plancha

Savory leek cannoli filled with langoustines and mushrooms with lobster sauce

Monkfish on a light bed of purée of Porrusalda (traditional Basque vegetable mixture), mushroom tomato vinaigrette with a crunchy prawn skewer

Pineapple mint sorbet (to cleanse the palate and prepare you for the main course, of course.)

Top sirloin steak with candied red peppers, bacon and potato cake with a Rioja reduction

Mille-feuille over hot chocolate and vanilla sauce, served with a crunchy awesome and dark chocolate ice cream

~~~~~

Luckily I got the only fork and knife thus obviating the need for my parachute

So there you have it. My first 7ish-course dinner, not to mention that, besides the dessert, there was wedding cake. Naturally, after a protein, sugar, carbohydrate rush like that you are going to be rearing to have a go on the dance floor.

Speaking of dance floors, Basque weddings traditionally feature one. Sure, they say that Basque men can’t dance because their femurs are connected directly to their rib cages but that didn’t stop them from wobbling the night away.

Teaching Basque men the meaning of "hips"

Another thing: despite my country being the grand ole inventor of country line dancing, I had never been to any hoedown, hootenanny, shindig or wedding, for that matter, that included this linearly choreographed boogie. So imagine my surprise when the DJ laid down this Billy Ray Cyrus cover. Now imagine the sound of my jaw hitting the floor being drowned out by Mexican Achy Breaky Heart as I bore witness to the most bizarre thing I had ever seen.

Yes. This is exactly what it looks like. Line dancing, not in a barn or otherwise acceptable hoedown dance hall, but in a hotel, in the Basque Country, being danced by people in formal wear, and they all know the steps…

Ok, ok, ok. Coming from the country that gave us the Macarena this shouldn’t be so surprising. I mean, the Spanish dance ethos is borne of kitschy, one-hit-wonder choreography, right? Many people will say, “no” but I am saying, “yes” to support my post. (Sweeping generalizations were always my downfall in Ms. Manchester’s class.) Amaia claims not to know the dance though I have my doubts.

All in all, my most recent cultural experience taught me an interesting lesson: no matter how similar two things are, that doesn’t mean they aren’t completely different. Whether that would be considered a lesson or an aphorism, I really don’t care.  All I know is that, yes, the wedding was similar to weddings I have attended in USA; the bride wore white, people dressed up, there was wine, there was dancing… However, there was no “wedding party”, we ate for two whole hours and then had dessert, the grandmother of the bride was still going strong well past midnight and of course that whole line dancing thing.

Despite all of these differences, however, I have to admit that the most beautiful part of the night was what binds most weddings: the coming together of so many guests to celebrate the union of these two wonderful people. Transcending borders, cultures, languages and dance tendencies, the gathering of friends, plus-ones and family on your most special of days is truly universal.

[the dk]

PS For the curious ones out there, ezkontzak is weddings in Euskera, or Basque.

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9 comments

  1. Gran descripción de vuestra boda vasca, Dustiño.

    Dos cosas:
    1. Sí, “No rompas más” y “Macarena” son dos clásicos de toda boda que se precie. Ahora bien, faltó la más importante: Paquito el chocolatero. No hay una boda que se precie sin esa gran reliquia de la cultura musical española.

    2. El menú se leía delicioso… pero ese milhojas de nata y chocolate… Ah, qué puedo decir. No words.

    Keep living the dream in the Canary Islands, my friend! 🙂 Besotes,

    • Hola Mamen,
      Gracias por la respuesta.

      Vaaaaaaaaaaaaale, puede que sean la ‘Macarena’ y ‘No rompas más’ unos pilares musicales inderrocables de la boda española, pero la verdad es que en cuanto al Paquito et al., ya sabes nuestra postura con respecto al tema. Aunque sean una grandes reliquias de la cultura musical española, si el DJ las toca durante la nuestra, andará sin sueldo por servicios prestaus.

      Asimismo, de lo que dices sobre el postre, sí, tienes toda la razón. El postre milhojas…hostia, de puta madre.

      • Grande, DK, grande 🙂 (Y yo os dije, por tratarse de vosotros, there will be no hard feelings por no poner Paquito :P) ¡Besos!

  2. Lissett Samaniego

    Dustin!

    I have soo enjoyed your post! You had me in stitches, dude! I love reading about your adventures. They are instructive as well as entertaining. Keep them coming.

    • Hi Lisset,

      Thanks for the comment and by the way, congrats on your long mediation the other day. I have to admit, when I read your update the first time I thought you had said “meditation” and I thought to myself, “dang, that’s a lot of meditating”.
      Amaia and I hope to have something once a week or so. It’s a nice theory but we’ll see how it goes 😀

  3. Hola DK – me gusta mucho tu blog! I would like to confirm that “No rompas mas…mi pobre corazon” is a STANDARD. At least at all Mexican weddings and pachangas. I’m glad to hear it’s also standard on the other side of the pond. Did they do the speed version? Starts slow, then gets crazy! Why am I so familiar with this particular song? Well…you and I have a lot of catching up to do. Apparently you now live in the Canary Islands. Updates in my life include that I now live in LA and am an assistant to my boyfriend, who does photo and video for weddings and a heck of a lot of quinceaneras: http://cruzandocalifornia.wordpress.com/2010/09/19/adventures-in-quinceanera-photography/

    • Hey Spi,

      I had never heard that song, but then again, to me an Mexican wedding is champagne mixed with Corona. Anyhow, I would love to go to one. I was absolutely flabbergasted when I heard it, I was like, “huh….eso me suuuuuuena….., hoooooostia” I think the kicker was seeing all of the Spaniards dancing it, though. Even abuelita. Abuelita was full of surprises that evening.

      Take care! I will find you on Gchat…..

  4. kp

    whaadup bahhddy? It’s Presidents Day, and i’m actually getting this holiday off… to do what? I’m still in bed, it’s 9:22am and I’m trolling the interwebs. love the blog, got one thing for you. While the ghost of mexican-billy-ray-cyrus-past is an interesting (read: stupendously WTF) variant, the dance seems to resemble the good ol’ fashioned Electric Slide. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vAwpTva9ERk (wow the links I weeded through to get that, apparently The Electric Slide is quite ubiquitous). I’ve been to quite a few weddings in Merced County, where the bridesmaids are invariably ex-rodeo queens and the groomsmen are required to be CDF volunteer firefighters, and that little shuffle always seems to pop up. I doubt there was any Copenhagen being dipped at this wedding, though. Big difference.

    • What up, bbbbbuuuuddddddy. Glad to hear you got P’s day off. I bet you can’t remember the last time you were still in bed at 9:22a on a Monday morning haha. In response to your video, I have to be honest, I only made it through about 1:14 before I realized enough was waaaaaaaaaaaay more than enough (it was that guy’s inability to say anything more than “back it up” and “now left” and “huh huh huh”). That said, I do see the resemblance in the two dances, for better, or as I think, for worse.
      At these Merced weddings, were the females also dippin’ Cope’? I hope…..not.

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