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A look back at the Espelette Pepper Festival in the Basque Country

In the Basque Country, the famous Espelette pepper festival took place last weekend... back, in pictures...

Spice it all up! So we want to exclaim each time we increase a dish: axoa, piperade, chocolate tart,

with the brilliant little Basque vegetable reduced to powder. It is the only French spice benefiting from an AOP (Protected Designation of Origin) and yet it comes from Mexico, because it was one of Christopher Columbus' Spanish sailors who would have brought it back from across the Atlantic and introduced into the Basque Country. The first pepper of the local variety of Capsicum Annuum, nicknamed Gorria, was sown in Espelette in the 1650s. What a long way we have come until the creation of a producers' union in 1993, the obtaining of an AOC (Appellation of controlled origin) in 2000 "Piment d'Espelette – Ezpeletako Biperra", and finally the AOP in 2002, which brings together ten villages and the entire sector: more than

two hundred producers following drastic specifications to the letter, a guarantee of quality, as well as six processors and ten reconditioners.

Twenty years after obtaining the precious label, the chili festival held in Espelette at the end of October is a huge success. Between 20,000 and 30,000 people participated in its 53rd edition last weekend, punctuated by parades of bandas, brotherhoods, brass bands, an induction ceremony, a mass with blessing of peppers, tastings, gala meals and street shows...

Photo credit: Lionel OSMIN ET CIE

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