Page last updated at 10:33 GMT, Sunday, 21 March 2010

Close-Up: The Basque country's txoco dining clubs


Ramon Goni samples the delights of txoco culture

In an ongoing series, BBC News focuses on aspects of life in countries and cities around the world. What may seem ordinary and familiar to the people who live there, can be surprising to those who do not.

A 'txoco' is a gastronomic society traditional to the Basque country of Spain.

Its members are drawn from all sections of society, and they themselves organise the shopping and cooking. Mealtimes are relaxed with controversial subjects like politics usually avoided.

But although most of the txocos allow women to join meals as guests, some stick to the all-male tradition - arguing that txocos offer men an escape from the Basque matriarchal culture.

Ramón J. Goñi tours San Sebastian's market and visits the oldest Basque txoco - meeting Unión Artesana member Txuno Echaniz and Unión Artesana President José Antonio Iribicu.

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