Most of us who live in Boise have visited the Basque Block, we've eaten at Bardenay and walked past the insane parties held in the street every year. Not as many may know exactly what those festivals are about. This year, the Basque Museum and Cultural Center is making sure they do.
"We thought we would make a 'Basque 101/Survival Guide/Festivals for Dummies' type of presentation for non-Basques to ease into the festival atmosphere and learn about the food, drink, music and dance before everyone fills the street and it turns to total chaos," said Annie Gavica, education program specialist for the cultural center.
She's calling the program "San Inazio for Beginners," and it'll be held at the cultural center on Thursday, July 24, at 5:30 p.m. It costs $10 and includes a Basque cider tasting and pintxo (appetizers) lessons.
"We'll present the information about a typical Basque festival, why we do it, how it started--the educational part of it, if you will," Gavica said. "My job is to promote the educational aspects of the Basque culture, so I try to get non-Basques to come. Food and drink and music seem to be the best way."
Gavica said the cider tasting will be one of the most interesting parts of the evening.
"A lot of people are getting into the hard cider thing right now," she said. "But hard ciders in the Basque Country have been around forever."
Basque cider is traditionally stored in giant barrels and poured four or five feet above the glass to make it bubbly. It doesn't taste anything like your typical grocery store bottle of Angry Orchard, though. It's tart. Gavica even compared it to the juice left over in green olive jars.
"Some people hate it, some people love it," she said.
After the food and drink comes the music. The program will feature a few Basque musicians and participants can learn a dance or two so they can jump into the street and dance on San Inazio weekend.
The Basque Block has been celebrating San Inazio for more than 50 years, according to Gavica, and usually draws 3,000-5,000 people. This year, the festival falls on Friday, July 25-Sunday, July 27.
Registration for the "San Inazio for Beginners" presentation is open through July 23. Call the Basque museum at 208-343-2671 for more info.