The gilda is a classic Basque pintxos that comprises three ingredients: Guindilla peppers, an anchovy, and an olive skewered together. The savoury snack first appeared in the 1940s at Bar Casa Valles in San Sebastian, Spain, which is one of the earliest and most influential pintxos bars in the area.

While the origin location is widely accepted, there is debate around exactly who created the first gilda. Owners of Bar Casa Valles and brothers Blas and Antxon Valles served the components of a gilda at their venue, but regular Joaquin ‘Txepetxa’ Aramburu is said to be the one who combined the ingredients together on a toothpick, with other patrons following suit.

The pintxos fast began to appear at other establishments across Spain and became a staple. As for the name? It’s an homage to the 1946 American film noir which featured a spicy, sassy character called Gilda played by Rita Hayworth.

The traditional elements of a gilda are Guindilla peppers, a green olive, and an anchovy. The Guindilla pepper is grown in the Basque region and is identifiable by its long, narrow body and relatively mild heat level. The peppers are pickled in white wine vinegar, resulting in a tangy profile that retains the fruitiness of the chilli.

Manzanilla olives are produced in Spain and are some of the highest quality olives available on the market, revered for their gentle brininess. The final ingredient is tinned anchovies. Any restaurant-level anchovies will do, but Ortiz are a firm favourite among chefs.

Preparation and flavour profile The composition of a gilda all comes down to preference — but typically, the Guindilla pepper has the heaviest presence on the skewer or toothpick. The order in which the ingredients are skewered also varies, but most sandwich an anchovy fillet in between peppers and an olive (or two) before finishing with a glug of extra-virgin olive oil.

Given the ingredients are cured, pickled, and brined, the pintxos is heavy on the salt, making it the perfect accompaniment to vermouth, aperitifs, and classic cocktails. The gilda is designed to eat in one bite and generates an immediate reaction from the palate, making it an unforgettable snack.