Queen of parties, princess of appetizers, and patron of every Spanish bar. It’s one of the most important ambassadors of Spanish gastronomy. We are talking of the Tapa. If you´re unclear what it is, come and discover all about it with us.
It’s origin isn´t clear. Some people say that Alfonso X “El Sabio” (an ancient Castillian king) requested that a small appetizer be served with a glass of wine to decrease the effects of the alcohol. Others say it originates from the afternoon snack that peasants ate in the fields during the long working hours of the day. And some people say that it was simply a piece of bread placed over the top of a drinking cup to prevent insects falling inside. Whichever theory you go with, there is no doubt that the origin of these little rations of food is Spanish.
And the key to its success? Perhaps it´s the way a tapa perfectly accompanies a good conversation with friends. Or it could be that behind many good stories, there is often a good tapa. Or maybe because to go out for tapas (moving from one bar to another for one drink and an appetizer) “irse de tapas” embodies the Spanish spirit of enjoying life to its fullest.
The picture shows you how to enjoy an authentic Spanish tapa.
But which tapa to choose? Depending on the bar you visit you´ll find them hot, cold, small and simple or large and complex, served on toasted bread, inside a pot, or on a plate.
And where do you go to eat tapas? This is easy to answer as every corner of Spain has its own selection of tapas bars offering thousands of different varieties overall. Granada, famous for its large portions and wide variety of tapas, is known for its dish of fried beans and cured ham. In southern Spain you can sample fried fish in Seville and fresh fish in Almeria – where marinated herrings are combined with cooked potatoes in an exquisite tapa.
Up in northern Spain, octopus is the protagonist of tapas dishes in La Coruña, served either “a la gallega” style – a slow cooked hot tapa served with Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Spain and paprika, or as “salpicón” – a cold tapa with chopped octopus, onion, tomato and peppers which is usually served cold in the summer. Tapas are often served as quite large portions in the Vasque Country region, and are called pintxos, like the pintxo of quail egg with cured ham, or mushrooms topped with toasted shavings of cured ham.
Tapas form part of the everyday Spanish diet, but there are also haute cuisine tapas. Chef Ferrán Adrià has made heroes of tapas in his culinary venture Tickets Bar, and José Andrés has exported the cooking concept to the USA.
In Spain and throughout the world it is increasingly common to see gastrobars in the streets. Estado puro is one such place, where renowned chef Paco Roncero serves gourmet tapas at affordable prices.
But the best news of all is that great tapas are all in the imagination of the creator. If you think you can create a tapa to impress, you can take part in our competition. The prize is a trip to Spain! Why don’t you try your luck?