For those of us lucky enough to visit Spain, tapas are a definite must. While there are many different versions of their origin, one thing remains true; they are quintessential Spanish culture. Read on and dive into the wonderful realm of one of the world´s most revered snacks of all time. Are you ready to let your imagination fly? Let´s go!
Let´s begin from the very start by defining what tapas actually are. Tapas are what you would call a snack anywhere else in the world that comes with most drinks. It is just a small, very tasty snack to have on your own while you are enjoying your glass. Most people eat them with beers though some others prefer to do it with wine. The beverage of preference is not an obstacle to delight your palate with true Spanish micro cuisine.
Spain is known around the world for having the best ham. Those of us lucky enough to have tasted it know this is not even a discussion. Spanish Pata Negra melts in your mouth as if it was butter or ice cream while tasting mesmerizingly great. The good news is that not everything is about ham in tapas and you can get your share made of the most wonderful veggie-friendly ingredients. It is a matter of letting the bartender know your preference and he or she will order the right one for you from the kitchen.
How were tapas born? There are many different stories involving kings, dust, and flies. To me, the most convincing one is that they started serving them with drinks to avoid people getting drunk so fast. In Spanish tapa comes from the verb tapar which means “to cover” in English. They would cover the glasses of the customers with a little exquisite food so that they wouldn´t drink on an empty stomach. In case you didn´t know, drinking on an empty stomach will cause you to get drunk much faster.
You can roam around bars in almost any city of Spain and they will serve you a wide array of different tapas everywhere. They used to be free along with your drink, but most bars started adding them to the menu and charging them separately. If you are lucky enough to go to the countryside or away from big cities, you´ll find them in a tiny dish next to your drink or on top of it.
Tapas summarize Spanish culture and cuisine in one single dish. The Spanish spirit is festive, easygoing; Spaniards go out a lot and drink from the early evening into the night. You´ll find a very wide assortment of pubs and bars in all regions of the country. This idea of hitting the bar after work and staying out until the evening is an intimate part of their culture. Tapas, by excellence, accompany them throughout the late evening and night. The design and idea go perfectly well with the people and what they do at least on a weekly basis.
It´s not easy, but tapas summarize the spirit of a whole nation in a dish that can fit on top of your glass. They even got a noun for it “tapeo” and verb for it “tapear”.
Whether it was King Alfonso X who invented tapas or not, we´ll never know. What it is possible to do is to live the wonderful tapa culture anywhere in the country. Imagine for a minute hearing the distant rumble of the Mediterranean Sea while enjoying your tapa and beer in paradise. It doesn´t get much better than that; so why not try it now?