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Quality gastronomy and excellent company on the same dish

There are more than 1,500 gastronomic societies in the Basque Country and Navarre. The first one opened in San Sebastián in the mid-19th century but this tradition is still popular today and will continue to be in the future.

What are they? What do people do in these societies?


From a legal point of view, these societies are non-profit associations, whose major assets, regarding their activities, are well-equipped kitchens and dining rooms. The members meet there to sit at a well-provisioned table, share the costs and enjoy good food.

However, this definition is rather basic and does not cover the dynamic aspects of the cultural life that these gastronomic societies provide in the Basque Country. They engage in the world of culture and sports and many musical, festive and sporting activities that take place in the Basque Country do so thanks to these societies. Nobody can ignore the fact that the San Sebastián societies are responsible for the excellent atmosphere enjoyed in the capital of Gipuzkoa during the “tamborrada” (drum festival), which takes place every year on Saint Sebastian day, the patron saint of the city. These entities are the protagonists of the drum playing during San Prudencio and are connected with groups known as the “cuadrillas de blusas”, who are in charge of creating the atmosphere in the streets during the local festivities.


How did they come into being?


Although there are societies in all the provinces, they originated in Gipuzkoa. The city of San Sebastián saw the opening of the first entity of this type, called “La Fraternal” in 1843. This city is also home to the oldest of the associations that exist today, the 'Unión Artesana', which has been around for 150 years. The exodus towards the cities from the country led to the emergence of this type of club, frequented by people seeking meeting spaces for leisure. The phenomenon 

gradually became popular in the surrounding areas, such as Álava, Bizkaia and Navarre. In addition, similar associations are known to exist today outside the Basque Country.


How are they organised?


Their rules are set out in their statutes and they have to register with the relevant Register of Associations. The General Assembly elects an executive body or board, which is responsible for the economic management and running of the club for the term they are elected. Members’ fees go to running the club and provisioning the society.


An invitation to one of these clubs is a lucky event. You will enjoy a pleasant atmosphere, camaraderie and you can be sure that whoever is preparing the meal that day will make an effort to please all those sharing the table.



Written by Eurodesk Qualified Multiplier,  Centro Coordinador de Información y Documentación Juvenil de Euskadi 

Published: Thu, 27/10/2016 - 09:59

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