The Freemasons. The Bilderberg Group. The Illuminati. All of these names elicit perked-up ears and subconscious leaning forward from everyone within earshot. After all, humans are curious by nature, and there’s not much we crave more than being let in on an exclusive secret. Especially a secret that could shed light on a majority of historical events, as well as future economic and political happenings that could have at least some impact on the lives of civilians all over the world. In Spain, however, there exist some secret societies that are completely food-centric. These gastronomic societies, called txokos, are focused on the nuances of food and drink, and they ensure socialization and food appreciation without any distractions.
One of the oldest secret gastronomic societies in Spain’s Basque region is called Kanoyetan, and it was founded over 115 years ago. All the members love to cook and experiment with new recipes, and they fill out menus and drop cash in an “honor box” for whatever they consume. Only men are members, because when it was founded, their wives were usually the heads of the kitchen, so this provided a way for them to gather and experiment outside the home.
Membership is even more exclusive than you’d think.
Men of any profession can belong to the club, where doctors and laborers are treated equally, as they should be. But getting in is the hard part — the waiting list is extensive, and if just one member of the club objects to a potential new member, they’ll be denied on principle. When one member dies, membership is offered to his oldest son.
The future means change.
The future is relatively uncertain for these societies, since the initiation fee (1,200 euros for Kanoyetan, or about 1,300 USD) and annual dues (290 euros, or about 314 USD) are reportedly considered steep by many people in their 20s and 30s, who have had to cut back on many expenses due to the economy’s issues. Also, now that male members of the younger generation are helping out more with child-rearing and domestic duties, they have less time to devote to this type of pastime and may balk at joining a club where their wives and children can’t be members. To stay relevant, clubs like this might have to go co-ed.