Many describe ‘Tapas’ as what Spain is all about. Standing whilst eating and drinking is a foreign concept to many, and loud bars, taverns and restaurants filled with loud people is different and exciting too. It’s all part of the southern Spanish experience, sharing both food and chatter, with many welcomes from locals and smiles combined.
The word ‘tapa’ translates to ‘cover’ and the origin of the word itself has come to many conclusions across the years, decades and centuries. It has been stated that king Alfonso 10th, due to illness, had to take small bites of food in between meals and once cured, he decreed that no wine was to be served unless accompanied by something small to eat. Many say it was a wise precaution to counteract the adverse effects of alcohol on those people who, through lack of money could not afford a nourishing meal drank alcohol on an empty stomach.
Others mention that it was the Spanish army that invented tapas. Why? To avoid soldiers from coming home drunk after a night out and subsequently suffering from hangovers the next morning thus reducing their performance.
It is certain that in Spain if you go bar and tapas hopping, a very traditional custom, it is not as easy as one might think to “get drunk” as you are constantly filling your belly and absorbing the alcohol. Tapas can be as simple as a bowl of olives or more hearty, such as slices of Ibérico ham or traditional braised chorizo sausage in red wine sauce.
They can vary between anything and everything but blossom in flavour nevertheless.
Serrano ham served with almonds, spanish tortilla (spanish potato omelette), chorizo braised in cider, steamed mussels, iberico ham croquettes, red peppers stuffed with cod, salpicón (seafood salad), russian salad (mayo-based potato-veg cold salad) and the most famous of all, ‘Gambas al pil-pil’, sizzling prawns in chili garlic cooked in a typical ceramic pot.
You must try them all!
Overall it is the enjoyment of good company, great wine combined with exquisite flavours in tapas that will make your evenings fun, loud and hopefully be the highlights of your visit.