Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Ernest Hemingway’s Love for Basques under the Microscope
Wednesday, October 9, 2019


Ernest Hemingway developed deep friendships with the Basques wherever he went. He sought them out in Spain and he sought them out in Sun Valley.

Inaki Sagarna, who just spent 10 weeks as the Community library’s Center for Regional History’s 2019 Hemingway Research Fellow, will describe Hemingway’s affection for the Basques at 6 tonight—Wednesday, Oct. 9, at the Community Library.

Sagarna is a Basque classical historian and native of Spain. He is currently completing his master of Arts degree in History at Boise State University. And he presented some of his findings at the 2019 Hemingway Seminar held last month at the library.

Sagarna said Hemingway knew the Basque country well, once commenting that he liked the people of Navarre better than those of any other part of Spain. He presented a speech in New York about Gernika, which was gutted by the Nazi Luftwaffe. And his Cuban home Finca Vigia housed a Basque dictionary.

He invited a Basque friend to spend Christmas in Sun Valley.

“The Basque people are swell people,” he said, And their food excellent.”

In fact, Hemingway sought out Basque food whenever he was in Sun Valley between 1939 and his death in 1961.

One of the reasons Hemingway liked Sun Valley was because the landscape reminded him of Spain, the late Silver Creek rancher Bud Purdy once said.

And here Hemingway also found a lively Basque community.

Four or five of the 13 bars that the valley boasted in the 1930s were owned by Basques, who were associated with such establishments as the Idaho Club, Club Rio, the Inchausti Gem Bar and the Tram.

Hemingway ate at the Gem Bar and Boarding House where Epi Inchausti also served Gary Cooper and even Col. Sanders. The building now houses Matt and Cindy Ward’s Sun Valley Real Estate.

The night Col. Sanders showed up happened to be the night Marie was serving fried chicken, recalled her grandson Dan Ansotegui, who now runs the Txikiteo tapas and wine bar in downtown Boise.

“Col. Sanders told hers, “Your fried chicken is almost as good as mine!” he recounted.

Hemingway met and became friends with Eusebio Arriaga, Sun Valley’s first non-Austrian ski instructor in 1939.

And after he bought a home overlooking the Big Wood River in Ketchum, he endeared himself to Joe Laragon when he asked him to trudge through two feet of snow to fill his underground tank.

Hemingway offered to help, Sagarna said. It was the first time a customer had offered to help, Laragon would later say.

The writer included a note with the check: “Dear Joe. Thanks very much for everything, Yours always, Ernest Hemingway.”



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