Basque Gastronomic Societies
I'm going to the Basque region of Spain and hope to get into one of the nearly legendary but also private gastronomic societies for at least a dinner or two -- I hear this can be done but I'm just not sure how. If anyone has any ideas about this I'd love to hear them. Thanks.
Also may be worth looking into whether the slow food movement has an outpost (convivio, condotta, whatever) anywhere in that part of the world - or whether they've at least 'honoured' or mentioned some local producers/vendors. Not sure if they do but it's worth a shot - and nonetheless another interesting global food "network".
One of the true joys of getting out of urban America (which I otherwise love) is that people are not isolated logs yearning to connect with other people yet never daring strike up conversations with strangers except in extremely narrowly-prescribed ways. In a place like the Basque country, you're not presumed a con man, pick-up sleaze, or worse for striking up conversations; you're considered to be a participant in the enjoyment of day-to-day life.
So....make friends. Meet chowhounds (I use the term generically rather than in reference to users of this site) and talk to them about food. Go to hip restaurants and ask around. Go to bars and talk to strangers.
The chowhound network is available everywhere, but in most places it's so hard to take the first step of approaching someone to make the determination of his/her houndliness. In Southern Europe, that barrier's erased. Just go have fun. Wear your curiosity and chowhoundishness on your sleeve (in the Basque country, love of food is as mainstream as love of football is in Texas). You'll find all you seek and more; you'll be taken under wing of local eaters and shown everything...if you can show yourself to be a kindred spirit. South Europeans particularly love kindred spirits.
Bring your chowhound passport, too. You won't need it to get serious food in a place like that, but people will LOVE them (the passports work for foreigners as well as anglophones). You'll have proved your extreme houndliness.