St Jean Pied de Port
Interview with Basque Speaker – a young 93 year old!
A quick note to listeners…in order to gain the most utility from these interviews, read the questions and summary first, then listen and discuss.:-)
Additionally, we found a wonderful episode of a podcast that discusses the French Basque area (as well as other travel and cultural aspects of France) as well…
Opening English statement and question
“Hello and welcome to Our World Interviews. Today I’m really excited to do our bilingual interview because this is our first interview in the Basque language—Euskera as it is known in Basque. I will be speaking with a woman whose family immigrated to the United States in… from France, very many years ago—a long time ago.”
“Basque speaking people have really been coming to North and South America since the 1400s. They settled in what is now known as Idaho, Nevada and California, and countries in South America. The largest existing Basque community outside of Europe, I guess is in Idaho, I guess in Boise.”
“Although there are several varying theories and opinions about where and how the Basque language developed, what is agreed upon is that the Basque people and language in Europe may represent one of the oldest surviving groups and languages in Europe.”
“Basque , a non-Indo European language is considered to be a linguistic isolate—which means that it is a natural language, with no known relationships to other common languages.”
“There may only be about, estimates vary, between 650,000 and a million Basque speakers left.”
“Okay, so can you tell us, I know you were born here in the United States, can you tell us where your family is from, and your husband?”
English summary of Basque answers.
Our interviewee was born in Fresno County and spoke Basque as a child with her native Basque speaking parents. Her parents and future husband were all born within ten miles of St. Jean Pied de Port in France.
She met her husband while he was delivering goods to her parent’s house where he instantly showed an interest in her. He invited her family to barbeques and to Basque dances. Eventually they married and had three daughters. Three years after their marriage they returned to the Basque country, bringing with them a red 1950 Chrysler New Yorker to the astonishment of their relatives.
Once back in Fresno they raised sheep. She describes her husband as someone who took great care of all of the animals, saving even the smallest ones.
She describes the directions for making the soup, as well as her family life in the home around dinner time.
She also describes many of the traditional Basque parties and festivals that still occur throughout California and beyond. They have dancers, accordion music, barbecues with lamb and sometimes they play the traditional Basque card game- Mus.
Traditional Basque soup recipe
¼ diced onion
1 diced Roma tomato
1 diced celery
1 small potato- diced
Handful of chopped raw cabbage
2 handfuls of chopped un-cooked pasta like thin spaghetti or fideo or vermicelli.
12 cups chicken broth
5 cups water
2 teaspoons salt (or to taste)
½ teaspoon thyme (leaf or ground)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1. Fry the diced onions and 1 chopped Roma tomato until limp.
- 2. Add the diced carrot, diced celery and diced potato
- 3. Add broth, water and cabbage
- 4. Season with spices, then heat until boiling.
- 5. Simmer on low for ½ hour
- 6. After it has simmered for ½ hour add pasta and simmer for additional ½ hour.
Adjust seasonings or liquid amounts to desired taste.
Merci Anitz—thank you!
And thank you to our interviewee and family for this wonderful interview.:-)