With tapas extending outside of Spain, the idea of ordering small plates to share is becoming a trend in restaurants worldwide, but how many are familiar with the history of Spanish tapas?
Because the concept of "tapa" has varied over the years, it is difficult to set an exact date for its birth, since, for example, in stories such as "Don Quixote" what is known today was called as "tapa", "flashy", and Quevedo, in his works called them " avisillos (hornets)", since it was something that was eaten before the main meal.
The Royal Academy of the Spanish Language says that the tapa is a “small portion of any food that is served as an accompaniment to a drink”.
There are theories that speak that it was King Alfonso X El Sabio (the wise) who gave rise to this way of eating: by medical prescription he had to drink one or two glasses of wine a day, and to avoid the effects of alcohol he accompanied the drink with a few bites of any food.
Others fix its birth at the time of the Catholic Monarchs: numerous incidents were recorded at the exit of the taverns starring drunk people. To avoid the strong effect of alcohol, customers were given slices of ham or other sausages.
There are also those who affirm, without detaching themselves from royalty, that it was King Alfonso XIII who, in a visit to the El Ventorrillo del Chato shop (between Cádiz and San Fernando), gave rise to the tapa: he asked for a glass of wine and a blizzard arose that invaded the sale. To prevent dust and insects from entering the drink, the waiter placed a slice of ham on top of the king's glass as a “lid”. The idea liked the monarch so much that he repeated.
Be that as it may, they were born in the 16th or the 20th century as a result of monarchical or peasant activity, the truth is that today they are completely consolidated in the country's gastronomy, being their culinary sign par excellence and an element exportable to other countries that already They are making their own tapas.
Fast and varied
Compared to traditional food dishes, tapas have several advantages: they are lighter, faster to make and allow you to eat a wide variety of foods in one sitting.
Although at first tapas were reduced to slices of cold meats, cheeses, olives, or nuts, today they are the object of the most elaborate cuisine. International Chefs all over the world, have found another expression of their culinary work on the Tapas. The most original and innovative design tapas are added to those of stews, montaditos, etc. The variety of them is very wide.
Its price, lower than that of a normal food plate, is another of the advantages of tapas. And although years ago tapas were eaten before the main meal, nowadays, they represent the food satisfying the diners' hunger.
The social dimension of tapas is, finally, one of their greatest attractions. "Tapear" has become one of the main entertainments not only in Spain but all over the world. The expansion of food between Tapas favors conversation, digestion, and social relations.
Today having tapas is known as a version of eating out, this style becoming so typical
that consumers have started to replace long and formal meals with informal and sociable tapas. In Spanish, to eat tapas even has its own verbs; picar means "to pick at" and is used to describe the way you would eat finger-foods, while tapear is a verb specifically meaning "to have tapas".
You will also find that tapas follow the gastronomic tastes and traditions of each region in Spain, but that types of olives, nuts, meats and cheeses are universal to all areas.
In addition to these typical tapas there is a world of possibilities in the form of different recipes that tapas bars across Spain have mastered, encompassing ingredients including meats, fish, vegetables, eggs and many other foods served in small forms.
A gastronomic luxury within everyone's reach.