Boise’s Basque Cuisine

by Heather Larson | Photo © Heather Larson

I knew nothing about the Basque people before my last visit to Boise. Now it’s very clear that preparing and sharing a good meal is at the heart of Basqueness.

The Basques in Europe live primarily in two countries—northwest Spain and southwest France—and may be the oldest ethnic group in Europe. When some of them immigrated to the United States, many settled in Boise, Idaho. With an estimated 15,000 Basque residents, it’s no wonder Boise dedicated an entire block to the Basques. Located in the downtown area on Grove Street, the Basque Block houses a museum, boarding house, two restaurants and a market.

Three times a week the Basque Market’s own Chef Jake Arredondo prepares a gigantic pan of paella on the sidewalk of the Basque Block. The broth bubbles as he adds clams and mussels still in their shells, shrimp, shredded chicken, chorizo, red peppers and green beans and lemon for garnish. The tantalizing smell attracts people from blocks away who buy a plate of this tasty dish. Magnifica!

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