Our Basque gastronomic society had Txoko number six last night. We’ve established a titanium-strength core of seven dedicated eaters/cooks who take this project very seriously.

For the uninitiated, a Txoko is a Basque gathering of men from all walks of life who congregate in a home or clubhouse [in Spain] with big bags of groceries and bottles of wine. We then commence to cooking and drinking for several hours til a point of complete satiation is reached.

I realized it was a successful Txoko when the host prodded me from a drunken slumber on his front porch where I was sprawled out like a sack of potatoes with an empty bottle of wine in one hand and a Juggs magazine in the other. I was using a cement planter as a pillow.

Our Txoko only has two rules. Neither may be breached. No women are allowed at the Txoko. This is a rule carried over from the Old Country [Basque-land]. At first we were trepidatious of this curious law.

Then we grew to love it. We all have a deep love of our women folk-they just better not intrude on our Txoko.

Second rule is that no politics may be discussed at Txoko. This keeps everybody focused without the party dissolving into the absurdities of our modern times.

The food last night started out in an onslaught where we banged out four courses in the first hour. We must have been starving as we normally take it a little bit slower.

Of course the wine flows like water as we utilize Austin’s finest wine retailer: East End Wines to great effect. To the tune of twelve bottles [down from the 18 at last Txoko]. My personal favorite was a Louis Perdrier brut rose’. It was knock your socks off good.

But we also fortified ourselves with glasses of sherry, vodka, Carpano Antica and Deschutes ales as well.

Now that Austin finally has world class cheeses available in a store front we always start things off with a few hunks of fromage from Antonelli’s in Hyde Park. After the cheeses, we flow like rivers til it’s time to stand like mountains at the stove as we each take our turns feeding the group.

Informally, we’re all trying to have “dish of the night”. Everyone has their own opinion of what constitutes their favorite but for me the Korean/Vietnamese Deep Fried Chicken with funky homemade caramel/sambal dipping sauce was mind bogglingly good.

This was the Hanoi part of the subject header. The Tuscaloosa part came in the form of a meat and three minus the meat. Sweet corn, simmered collards and fried okra. This is the sort of food served on a nightly basis in the farm house I grew up in in Kentucky.

One of our Txoko members came close to being led out of the gathering in handcuffs as he brazenly fried totopos in hot fat on the stove top. I told him of the Austin city ordinance forbidding such activities and he hollered something about how the man could come take it if they dared.

At some point the wine and food come together to create a haze of pure pleasure: daikon, cucumber, arugula, beef shanks, cantaloupe, aged ham, Spanish tortilla, Vietnamese iced coffee pops….they all come in a languorous rush of deliciousness unparalleled in the great state of Texas.

As far as we know we are the only Txoko in these parts but would love to hear from others if they exist.

All Txoko coverage here http://www.scrumptiouschef.com/food/Txoko-A-Basque-Tradition

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