Nevada's Cowboy Country celebrates the heritage of the Basque's, a unique - and still somewhat mysterious - ethnic group whose origins are in the Pyrenees mountain range between Spain and France. They call themselves Euskaldunak; their homeland, Euskaldi, and their native language is like no other.
Always an adventurous people - they were seafaring as early as the Middle Ages - many Basques crossed the Atlantic to America early in this century to herd sheep, an acitvity that brought them to Northern Nevada, where many stayed on, offering their culture - and their cuisine - to the frontier.
The most visible signs of the Basque influence are the family-style dining houses that proliferate across Cowboy Country, particulary in Winnemucca and Elko. Expertly-prepared seafood, steaks, and, of course lamb, are always on the menu, and the food is served in hearty portions in an atmosphere that is always festive.
Battle Mountain, Winnemucca and Elko also play host to annual summer time Basque festivals, where the music, dancing and colorful costumes of the old country are on display. There, you may find yourself dancing a spirited jota, or letting loose with an irrintzi, a staccato cross between a whoop and a cry that is the ancient call of the Basque Country.
No trip to Cowboy Country is complete without sampling the genuine hospitality of the Basques. Eskerrik Asko!