Going for pinchos in the Basque Country
Walking through the old town streets, seeing its main monuments and ending up with your friends in the bars of the downtown to have some pinchos is one of the best things students undertaking Spanish courses in San Sebastian, Bilbao or Vitoria can do.
A pincho, as conceived, is a slice of bread with, a portion of food on top. Food is now eaten with and without bread. The most usual ingredients are the typical Basque ones, such as hake, cod, Spanish omelet, stuffed peppers, mushrooms, etc. In the Basque country, it is very typical to have it with a chiquito, a glass of red wine, or a zurito, which is a small glass of beer.
To go for pinchos is not the same as to go for tapas, but it is very similar. Depending on the city where you are staying to study Spanish in Spain you can find tapas or pinchos. The pincho is usually linked to a slice of bread and the palillo (a small stick), but it is not always that way. The tapa is usually presented on a small plate. On the other side, the tapa is usually offered by the bar, and it is free, but the pinchos are chosen by the customer and have to be paid for, although it is not always the case. The naming of these traditions is sometimes more linked to the city than to the actual culinary combination itself.
The pinchos are associated to the Basque gastronomy, even though it is also customary in areas of Cantabria, Navarra, and La Rioja. People usually have it before a meal as an appetizer, but people decide to have lunch or dinner only with pinchos more and more, in what they call chiquiteo. This consists of going from bar to bar with a group of friends to have some wine or beers with pinchos.
So if you are undertaking a Spanish course in San Sebastian, Bilbao or Vitoria, or in another city from the Basque country, this is a great opportunity to practice Spanish while you enjoy the great gastronomy.