A pintxo (or pincho) is any tasty little morsel of food you can nibble with a drink and some good company. In practice, these days they’re usually slice of baguette with interesting toppings, speared through with a cocktail stick.
Although they´re to be found all over Spain (particularly in studenty places like Salamanca), the Basque country is the spiritual home of the pintxo, where even the caff in the railway station has a few on the counter.
In some bars, they bung you a couple for free, to accompany your drink. In most places, they’re a Euro-or-so each. You help yourself, generally, and present all the used cocktail sticks at the end of the night so they can tot up the bill.
They’re yet another brilliant “snack-to-beer”. Whatever the experts say, salty food is great with beer. Sometimes, we find we really only get a real sense of the taste of a particular beer when we’ve calibrated our tastebuds with a salty snack.
Here are some excellent Pintxo toppings to accompany a glass of almost anything:
1. Pickled fish — sounds grim, but sweet, salty little bits of herring or anchovy go exceedingly well with beer.
2. Tapenade (olive paste) — salt and oil, basically, with some spiciness from the olives.
3. Small pieces (what they call “goujons” in pretentious pubs) of battered salt cod — salt, oil… are you beginning to see the pattern here?
4. Spanish omelette — nothing soaks up booze better than spuds and, although the thought of eggy potatoes and beer might not sound that appetising, it works a treat.
5. Anchovy and cream cheese — not the pickled variety, but the dark brown salty, oily ones you get on cheap pizzas.
To be honest, you can put just about anything on a bite-sized slice of bread and it works. And they’re very easy to make. Give it a go.