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The Gastronomic Societies: the craddle of the Basque gastronomy

The Gastronomic Societies constitute original gastronomic spaces, that date from the year 1900, in which men used to meet to have lunch or dinner and specially to spend quality time with friends.

It seems to be that at the beginning, men of diverse guilds used to meet in these places in order to exchange ideas. At the time, women dedicated their time to home keeping tasks, for this reason they were not allowed to enter.

 This circumstances led to the creation of more playful spaces, so called Gastronomic Societies, in which the men enjoyed their time away from their wives. In any case, access to spouses, lovers or female friends was prohibited.

They were meeting points where the goal was to cook, eat, drink, sing and over all, have a good time.

The members cook free of charge for their friends. They have to pay the costs that come from the use of the kitchen, the pantry and the wine cellar. The cost is symbolic.


It’s a system based on mutual confidence, in which expenses are shared and the money is placed in a slot. No third person checks the amount, because the only thing that counts is honesty and respect among its members.

These Societies have been the base of the gastronomic cuture of the city. Nowadays, it constitutes a very important concept in San Sebastian’s social life, as well as eating, cultural events such as San Sebastian Day and the rememberance of the 31st of August 1813.

Experiencing a meal in such places is a priviledge to which you can only attend upon invitation of a member.

Today, the majority of Societies open their doors to women, but some of them still do not allow women to enter the kitchen area, where the men have to complete their duties as cooks. 

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