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Does Boise have the ‘most involved’ Basque community in the United States? CNN thinks so.

This man makes Basque paella for 200 people in Downtown Boise

Tony Eiguren, one of over 16,000 Basques in Boise, makes a huge paella that can serve up to 200 people on the Basque Block this weekend. Growing up in Boise, Eiguren feels the Basque community here is like a large family.
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Tony Eiguren, one of over 16,000 Basques in Boise, makes a huge paella that can serve up to 200 people on the Basque Block this weekend. Growing up in Boise, Eiguren feels the Basque community here is like a large family.

It’s not just the paella that has people talking about Boise’s Basque culture.

If you ask CNN, it’s not about food; it’s about a way of life.

CNN recently published a deep-dive into Boise Basque heritage in its “Peek inside Boise, Idaho’s vibrant Basque community” article. Author Lilit Marcus details Boise’s Basque Block and describes what makes Boise’s Basque neighborhood different from other such communities in the United States. Though it doesn’t have the most Basque people of any city in the United States, it does have the highest concentration, Marcus notes.

“On a typical day, it’s not unusual to walk into the bar at the cultural center and find 20-somethings chatting to each other in Basque over glasses of kalimotxo, the red-wine-and-Coke drink commonly associated with the Running of the Bulls,” Marcus writes. “Next door at Bar Gernika, named for the Basque town ... Basque and non-Basque families alike are enjoying traditional tapas dishes like croquetas and tortilla. Parents drink red wine while they wait for their young children to finish up accordion lessons.”

Marcus mentions Miami’s Cuban and Boston’s Irish-American communities just a few sentences away from describing Boise’s Basque culture.

“This community is inclusive, not exclusive. Many of the most committed community volunteers are ones who didn’t grow up in the Basque community and reconnected with their roots later on, or who married someone Basque and decided to learn the language and raise their children with Basque traditions,” Marcus writes.

Idaho is home to 10,000-15,000 Basques, according to the article. The Basques originate from near the Bay of Biscay, which borders both Spain and France. According to the North American Basque Organization, the Basques are “the oldest indigenous people of western Europe.”

Michael Katz: 208-377-6444, @MichaelLKatz

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