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Xabi Alonso talks gastronomy & food

October 6, 2011

I just saw this on El País, which must love Xabi Alonso as much as we do (and it’s also a good opportunity to repost the lovely photos from that article).  Their blog about food, El Comidista, chatted with Xabi about food, since it’s well-know that he’s interested in all gastronomic matters.  The fact that he’s so interested in food and knows so much just adds to his perfection.  Muy, muy jefe.  And also very, very Basque.

It’s cliché to say that we Basque people like to eat well.  But it’s true for Xabi Alonso, Real Madrid footballer and an aficionado of good food.  Reading his answers to the questions, it appears that the Donostiarran enjoys playing with the ball as much as he does eating lamb shoulder chops, guisantes lágrima (a type of pea found on the Gipuzkoan coast) and Cristal peppers.  I won’t say that Alonso is perfect – he hates olives and doesn’t play in Athletic – but it is a pleasure to find athletes that appreciate gastronomy this much.

What is your first memory associated with food?

The macaroni with tomatoes and hard boiled eggs that my grandmother Mertxe made in her house in Tolosa.

As a child, what dish were you made to eat that you detested?

I think olives.  My grandfather used to take my brother and me to the gastronomic society in Orendain, they always gave them to us and I could try them a thousand times, but I still won’t like them.

Do you cook?  What?  When?

I cook a bit.  But what I like best is food and the things that are made with pleasure and affection.  When?  When I go up to Donosti and we get together in the sociedad.  What?  Nothing grand, we usually buy chops with red peppers or lamb shoulder chops.  I’m a limited cook, and a grateful eater, jaja.

Out of the ones you know, which footballer is the best chef, or the one who knows the most about the subject?

The one that has the most interest and curiosity is Aitor López Rekarte, whom I played with in la Real.  In fact, he now owns a deli in Mondragón.  It sells both wine and food. 

Which is (or was) your favorite guarrindongada [it’s like a favorite, strange comfort food]?

I believe I’m from that generation that at times has a snack of a nocilla [it’s like Nutella] and chorizo from Pamplona sandwich, an impossible combination…

Do you have any special memories of a meal?

I have many memories and unforgettable dishes.  Grilled cigalas (crayfish) fresh from Cádiz were marvelous, a sea bream that I fished in Zumaia (because it was the biggest fish I ever caught), chipirones pelayo (baby squid and onions).  Grilled hake throats and turbot from Elkano, they’re really something.  Chops and red peppers at Julián de Tolosa, Martín’s torrijas

[My mouth is watering thinking of torrijas – I love them!!].

Is there anything you would never eat, even if you were dying of hunger?

I would say no, almost like Rocky, jaja.  Although I would try to avoid frog’s legs.

It’s a fact that the best pinchos (Basque tapas) in the world are made in San Sebastían, so can you recommend us a couple of bars?

It’s always difficult because there’s so much variety and each place has its specialty.  In the old part, there are many great bars.  Ganbara is wonderful, they specialize in mushrooms.  A Fuego Negro is innovative and the quality is great.  La Cuchara de San Telmo has great mini pinchosPaco Bueno is a classic with the best sandwiches.

Does your family bring any type of food from País Vasco when they come to see you in Madrid?  What?

My father usually brings me meat from Tolosa, which is like butter when you eat it.  Some friends from Tudela send me the first asparagus of the season, artichokes, guisantes lágrima and Cristal peppers, which I have a weakness for.

Basque people and food, is it genetic or learned?

It’s cultural, you absorb it from the time you’re a child.  The celebrations almost always take place around a table and that makes you enjoy it.  As you grow up, if you have a bit of curiosity, the possibilities that we have in Euskadi are a privilege.

You’ve committed a serious crime, and are sentenced to death.  The night before sitting down in the electric chair, you’re allowed to request your last meal.  What would be on the menu?

That’s a difficult question.  I think the menu would be so extensive that I would come down with indigestion before the moment.  But I would eat various things, such as grilled mushrooms with egg yolk, guisantes lágrima, a bit of seafood, a variety of grilled fish (bream, turbot, sole, tuna belly), lamb chops.  And to end, a bit of torrija and cheesecake.  With something like that, I’ll be ready to have a long nap…

Can you share a simple recipe with us?

More than a recipe, it’s something that gives a finishing touch to red peppers.  When you’re cooking them in a frying pan on low fire, sprinkle a bit of sugar.  You can see that I’m limited in the kitchen and I don’t attempt to give a lot of advice.

But you’re still perfect, Xabier Alonso.

23 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer permalink
    October 6, 2011 14:43

    Nocilla and chorizo. That’s what I will take away from this. That, and the fact that he’s blatantly a better cook than he claims to be. Just keep on keeping on, Xabi!

    (Side note: I’m a little disturbed by our shared brainwaves, because I totally sent this to Michelle a few hours ago.)

    • unamadridista permalink*
      October 6, 2011 15:16

      Yes, I was going to send it to Michelle too, because Xabi mentioned Elkano… but I guess I don’t need to now!

      • Michelle permalink
        October 6, 2011 19:06

        Aw man, y’all are the sweetest! I kind of miss these blogs — my job exploded in a major way over the last 6 months and I have trouble finding time to read or hang out on comments anymore. But I miss you! And Xabi.

        • unamadridista permalink*
          October 7, 2011 16:25

          I miss you too!

      • Michelle permalink
        October 6, 2011 19:22

        Also, um. I have had chorizo and dark chocolate before AND LIKED IT. So although nocilla and chorizo sounds kinda gross on the face of it, I can totally see what he’s going for there. I GROK YOU, XABIIII

        Also, torrijas. Nom.

    • Maria permalink
      October 6, 2011 19:19

      the nocilla and chorizo combination is a bit disturbing…..but otherwise this man is so lovely.

  2. October 6, 2011 15:07

    Wow. this man. Just wow. Can he be any more perfect if her tried?!!

  3. Pammie permalink
    October 6, 2011 17:09

    thanks so much for the translation! He’s really a great ambassador for San Sebastian, because everybody who reads this wants to go there and start eating right away 😀

  4. Allbe permalink
    October 6, 2011 17:45

    On the photo at the bottom left he looks so much like Steven Gerrard!

  5. Alyssa permalink
    October 6, 2011 18:48

    He loves Nutella (or something like it) an hates olives?! I KNEW IT! He really is the perfect man for me!

    Btw, I’m not surprised at all that Xabi is such a foodie but I’m so glad to hear it!

  6. kiki permalink
    October 6, 2011 19:05


    & thanks as always Miss Una, I bow down!

  7. kiki permalink
    October 6, 2011 19:08

    ps…….I agree Una in saying perfect except for the olive bit, but those teeny-tiny imperfections just make it harder as they make him HUMAN & thus fully lust worthy! OMG sorry for the TMI!

  8. kiki permalink
    October 6, 2011 19:13

    Oh Sweet Heaven on Two Legs! Xabi’s also a fisherman?!?! Stop & picture that for a moment, ladies….. Someone pass the sedatives, i can’t contain myself, i can’t with this man……………………………………………………..

  9. justme permalink
    October 6, 2011 19:54

    ahhh,reading about food makes me hungry..and i’m no spanish,so i’ve no idea about the dishes they’re talking about..but its okay,i can just enjoy my yummy xabi..yeah,i’m a grateful ‘eater’ too.. :p

  10. October 7, 2011 01:05

    he is so perfect. ahhhhh. xabier T_T

  11. Sahar permalink
    October 7, 2011 02:36

    I’m sorry I don’t understand the love for xabi. I don’t think he is handsome. I’ve seen him in person at Liverpool and when real came to la. He doesn’t look good in my opinion.

  12. shan permalink
    October 7, 2011 03:48

    I enjoyed this. Finally a Spaniard that sees things my way- that olives aren’t that tasty. All my Spanish friends tease me to no end and I try them all the time because each friend has a different idea of the ‘best’ olives in Spain. Also, Nocilla y chorizo? 2 of my favorites but I would NEVER think of putting them together. don’t think I’ll ever try it either. aaaand. PACO BUENO! that place really is classic.

  13. October 7, 2011 09:46

    hahaha my quote of the Week: “I’m a limited cook, and a grateful eater”.

  14. October 7, 2011 17:01

    Okay, that is too dreamy.
    He’s so perfect.

  15. Sarah, Madrid permalink
    October 7, 2011 18:11

    He hates oliveeeee!!!!!…xabi noo!!!! But you are still perfect!

  16. Gillian permalink
    October 8, 2011 03:32

    LOVE. HIM.

  17. black widow permalink
    October 8, 2011 04:22

    i hate olives, too! i’m still trying to wrap my head around a nutella and sausage sandwich, but to each his own! i’m going to try his sugar suggestion next time i grill red peppers.

    such a lovely man …

  18. October 8, 2011 19:01

    Thanks for the translation! I used Google translate to read this when Alvaro tweeted the article but google translate has nothing on Una!

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