Tapas are an essential aspect to Spain culturally and historically. Spain Tapas consist of small portions of food that accompany an alcoholic beverage before a meal. But they are so much more than just food because they represent the evolution of Spanish cuisine and meaningful reunions with friends.
How tapas started
The history of the tapa is a very interesting story. The Spanish King Alfonso XIII and the royal court went to a restaurant by the beach. That day the wind was very strong, so the waiter took the initiative to cover the King’s glass of sherry with a slice of ham as to not get sand inside. The king was delighted by this and requested another round but this time with ham coverings on all the glasses. Just like that, the custom was spread throughout Spain and the craze for tapas began. Nowadays there is a wide variety of delicious tapas to choose from.
What are the typical tapas in Spain?
Tapas have come a long way from being pieces of ham or slices of cheese on top of glasses. The evolution has grown with the Mediterranean diet and varies depending on the bar and their specialty. The most basic tapas include bowls of potato chips, almonds, or olives. These are the true staples of a great tapa that pair well with red wine, white wine, sangria, or beer. The following are more filling such as ham croquettes, meatballs, anchovies in vinegar, Manchego cheese, piquillo peppers, or a Russian salad made with potatoes, tuna, corn, and hard-boiled eggs covered in mayonnaise. But we also can’t forget our favorite tapa, the Spanish omelet. These are the more traditional tapas, but many bars have taken it upon themselves to experiment with food to invent new and modern tapas. In these cases, it is important to keep up with the new trends and frequently ir de tapas with friends to experience new flavors.
What does it mean to ir de tapas?
The phrase ir de tapas is very typical to hear within friend groups when organizing their weekend plans. It basically means to go from bar to bar ordering drinks and eating a wide variety of tapas. In certain neighborhoods and local bars, the tapas come free with the drink! This means you can enjoy a whole meal by just ordering a couple drinks. It’s the best feeling in the world when you order a drink at the bar and see a plateful of savory food come just for you. No matter how many times you ir de tapas it’s always a delightful surprise to see the tapa of choice from the bartender.
Needless to say, this activity is very popular, and it is normal to see groups of people standing around the bar enjoying their tapas late into the night. This is a crucial part of Spanish culture and the identity of Spanish cuisine. It is a time when you can catch up with old friends or create close bonds with colleagues after work. Better yet, if you want to truly experience the diverse gastronomy of Spain, grab some friends for a trip to the north to try the amazing food.
Where is the best place in Spain to eat tapas?
Just like Valencia is known for paella, San Sebastián is known for its extravagant pintxos. This beach side city in the north has the most mouthwatering pintxos in Spain. Pintxos are similar to tapas but the base consists of a piece of bread with small portions of food on top held together with a toothpick. To order, you must ask for the pintxo separately from the drink. Unlike tapas, you must pay for the pintxos. This is because they are bigger and include more food. Since San Sebastián is at the beach you get a wide selection of fresh seafood that is typical in this region. This is a great way to get a taste of northern Spain and the different types of dishes Spain has to offer.
Another city that offers amazing tapas is Granada, located in the south of Spain. As we’ve mentioned before, this city has it all and does not disappoint with the array of tapas that the bars prepare. Plus, while eating your tapas you can soak in the stunning architecture and quaint streets.