The Humble Talo

A talo stall in Vitoria's medieval quarter.

A talo stall in Vitoria’s (Basque Country) medieval quarter.

In the parts of northern Spain I frequent (the Basque provinces of Alava and Guipúzcoa) one of the simplest and most delicious foods is the talo. Consisting of a thick cornbread tortilla wrapped around chorizo, chistorra, cheese or even chocolate, the concept of the talo is far from rocket science, but the results are off-planet on the scrumptiousness scale. The delectability of the talo is augmented by two factors: its consumption in tandem with cider or chacolí (a type of sparkling white wine produced in the Basque Country and which, in spite of its acidity goes down very well); and the fact that talos are almost exclusively available during fairs, feast days and fiestas and are to be eaten outdoors, where the fresh northern air and festive spirits leave any Michelin-star sauce in the ha’penny place.

A chorizo talo.

A chorizo talo.

It is the filling that makes the talo. The chorizo used is of the young, soft and thick variety and is boiled in cider, lending it a tanginess it wouldn’t otherwise have. The fried chistorra will be harder and have a more meaty taste. One of the most interesting cheeses employed is Idiazábal, a very strong-tasting sheep’s cheese which, under Denominación de Origen regulations, can only be made in the Basque Country and Navarre. Such is the capacity of cornbread for soaking up overpowering flavours, it seems as if any filling can be used for a talo no matter how pungent!

Given the capacity for the Basques and Spanish to combine a love of the outdoors with an equally intense love of food, there are many treats of the tapa variety widely available at outdoor events. (The blighters also have the weather to reliably plan and execute open-air fiestas at any time of the year!) I look forward to writing further blogs on the many such dainties I encounter along my travels this year.


About ucronin

Born in the country town of Ennis, Co. Clare, Ireland in 1975, I now live in Madrid with my partner and two young daughters and work in a research institute. While I was always a hungry reader and harboured vague notions of being a writer, as a young man writing was the furthest thing from my mind; after leaving school, I did a B.Sc. in Biotechnology in Galway's NUI, an M.Sc. in Plant Science in University College Cork and a Ph.D. in Microbiology in the University of Limerick, the plan being to dedicate my professional career to scientific research. While having written extensively within my technical scientific field, I had never contemplated becoming a writer of fiction until a road-to-Damascus moment on the N69 between Listowel and Tarbert, Co. Kerry in the summer of 2011. Since then, most of my spare time has been occupied with writing. In whatever other free moments I have, I like to listen to music, play the guitar and garden (which here in Madrid means a lot of watering of plants and spraying for red spider mite). My ambition is to become as good a writer as I possibly can, eventually freeing myself from the cold clutches of science and earning a living through my scribblings. The type of writing that excites me is honest, intelligent, well-constructed and richly descriptive.
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One Response to The Humble Talo

  1. These talos sure sounds yummy and versatile. From cheeze to chocolate filling… sounds great to me!

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