Go out for Tapas
In Spain, going out for tapas (tapear in Spanish), is a longstanding tradition. But, it’s also a misconstrued term as it has gained popularity around the world. Tapas do not refer to a type of food, believe it or not. Instead, it refers to a way of eating. You might think, oh, it means ordering lots of small plates that the dining group shares… but actually, it doesn’t even mean that. Going out for tapas means bar hopping from place to place and getting one dish to share at each locale to accompany a glass of wine, or other drink. Indeed, there are not tapas restaurants in Spain, but rather tapas bars, and the whole point is to encourage conversation.
It becomes a very social activity that keeps the night moving, and enables people to sample some of the best dishes that a given city or town has to offer. So, whether you’re going out for Spanish food or otherwise, next time you go out with friends have your own tapear by sampling a few local establishments and making your own progressive dinner party.
There are lots of theories as to how the tapas tradition began. A couple center around King Alfonso X of Castille, who got very ill and could only take small quantities of food with a cup of wine. Upon getting better, he decreed that taverns serve a bit of food with a cup of wine. A variation on this is the King Alfonso XIII (1886-1931) visiting a very famous tavern called Cadize in Andalusia City, who was given a cup of wine with a slice of ham atop the cup to prevent sand from getting in… Upon drinking the cup and eating the ham, the King ordered another cup of wine with “the cover.”
IngredientsThere are a lot of different kinds of tapas. Here are some of my favorites:
Croquetas: a bread crumbed roll of fried food containing things like ham, cheese, meat or shellfish.
Jamon Serrano: Mountain cured ham. Best with jamon iberico, which is a from acorn-fed black pigs that are semi-wild from the Iberico region of Spain. Aged to perfection and very expensive, this delicacy is sliced super thin, served over toasted bread or plain.
Garlicky Shrimp with Olive Oil: shelled and deveined shrimp sautéed in olive oil and garlic, served with crusty bread for dipping.
Chorizo-filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon: sweet and salty combination sleighs any resistance to this delectable bite of perfection.
- Go to your favorite Spanish city, such as Barcelona.
- Gather a group of friends and hit the tapas bars, ordering one to two tapas at each place with accompanying wine.
- Lucky for you, tapas are now popular throughout the world, so if you don’t find yourself in Spain, you can still partake in this wonderful tradition.