A little bit of European culture in…Boise?

Last weekend I went to visit my father and stepfamily in Boise, Idaho. This was my third trip up there. It could easily go without saying that compared to Los Angeles Boise is a little baby city. Their downtown area is the only part of actually seems like a real city and even that feels like it is part of a play set. On my previous trips to Idaho I had been quite underwhelmed with what it had to offer.

To try to mix things up my family was planning on taking a day trip to Sun Valley. I figured it would be fun to see a different part of Idaho and since I am originally from a ski resort in Colorado I thought it could be interesting to compare and contrast the two tourist towns. The day before I arrived in Idaho I was disappointed to find out that the day trip to Sun Valley was going to be canceled because of bad weather.  That is when I took to wikitravel to find something fun a different to do in the Boise area. What to do? What to do?

As soon as I saw that there was a museum on immigrants to Idaho from the Basque country in Europe I knew I had found the answer.


Not only do adore Europe and Spain but long ago I have ancestors that came from the Basque country.


Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures inside the museum. However, my father, stepmother and myself were lucky enough to visit the museum on a Saturday when they allow you to tour a former boarding house for the Basque immigrants.


It turns out that in the early 20th Century the Basque country (which is located along the Northern border between Spain and France) was suffering poor economic conditions. At the same time there was a need to sheep herders in Idaho. It was a job that did not require the workers to speak English so many young single men moved to the Boise area to become sheep herders. They would spend six or seven months out of the year herding their sheep and during the winter they would stay in boarding houses in what is  now downtown Boise.


I found all of this extremely fascinating. I unfairly judged Idaho for not having much culture. But upon visiting this museum I found that these sheep herders brought their sports, which included variations on handball and bowling, and their food to the Boise area.


What was so interesting about the museum was that it combined the history of the Basque country with the history of the Basque people who immigrated to Idaho.


After we were done at the Basque museum we went out to dinner at a Basque Restaurant in a Boise suburb called Meridian (this is actually where my family lives).  The restaurant was called Epi’s and I highly recommend it. I had a fish dish that was stuffed with shrimp. The meal was expensive, by Idaho standards, but you get a lot of high quality food. I highly recommend eating there.


I never imagined I would find a little bit of European culture mixed into daily life in Boise but I did. This was just a good reminder to myself to not judge a book by its cover.

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