Getting a taste of Northern Nevada’s Basque heritage | NevadaAppeal.com

Getting a taste of Northern Nevada’s Basque heritage

Andrew Pridgen
Appeal Staff Writer
BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Conner Larkin, 8, of Carson City, attempts to lift a 220 pound granite boulder at the 10th annual St. Teresa School Basque Festival on Sunday.
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The “dawn patrol” of Basque cuisine specialists from White Pine County got to cooking at Fuji Park eight hours before the first guests would arrive at the gates.

A spit spinning 24 turkeys churned up smoky flavor guided toward Spooner Summit by a generous Sunday morning breeze.

Motorists spying smoke on their descent to Carson City curiously cracked open windows to taste the sweet charred air of 600 pounds of lamb and 200 pounds of chicken cooked to “what we like to call earthly perfection” one bleary-eyed chef said.

Mass was said at noon, giving new credence to the notion that good things come to those who wait.

And as Dixie plates were handed to a throng of expectant midday diners – the 10th annual St. Teresa School Basque Festival was on.

The food line stretched more than a half-mile. From the park’s indoor seating, past the front gate ticket taker, around the bandstand where the beer and food queues temporarily mingled, around the T-shirt tent and finally coming to a serpentine end near the bounce house.

Was it worth the wait?

“You mean waiting a whole year for this?” said Reno resident Phillip Friedmann. “Yeah, I think the food is definitely a highlight.”

Friedmann’s mother-in-law, Sparks resident Tiffer Morris, a 1964 graduate of St. Teresa, said she looks forward to the food almost as much as she looks forward to seeing the St. Teresa community expand every year.

“My brothers and I, our (class) opened the school,” she said. “So there’s a lot of tradition that goes into today.”

And it’s a tradition that has grown substantially, even since last year, St. Teresa principal Chris Perdomo said.

“Enrollment is up about 20 percent and we’re expecting about 2,000 people here today -the most ever – so we’re doing well,” Perdomo said, noting the event – the school’s biggest annual fundraiser – was slated to raise $30,000. “What I think St. Teresa offers is a really good environment where religion extends to everything we do.

“And it’s not just Catholic kids. We have Hindu, Lutheran, Episcopalian. I think what we have is higher standards and increased expectations of the students and parents.”

St. Teresa parent Mike Matuska drove home Perdomo’s sentiment while waiting in the kids’ hot dog line with daughter, Katie, 9, a fourth-grader at the school.

“I’ve been coming to this and supporting the event in the community for about eight years,” Matuska said. “The school really calls on both student and parents to stay involved. They learn at an early age, if you don’t stay involved, you’re going to fall behind. I think that’s a pretty good lesson.”

The lesson extended all the way to the barbecue pits – still turning out meat to feed the ever-growing masses in the mid-afternoon.

“This is my 10th year,” said head cook Charlie Abowd while cleaning a grill. “What I like about this event is it brings the community out to sample the food, the culture – but most of all to enjoy the day and talk to one another.”

• Contact staff writer Andrew Pridgen at apridgen@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.