“Tapa” is a Spanish word to denominate the aperitif you eat in a bar with an alcoholic drink (beer or wine).
There are many kind of tapas. From the easiest ones, like a piece of cheese with bread sticks to the most complicated as the “Cigar of Bécquer”, a roll made of filo pastry filled with cuttlefish, squid ink and seaweeds (3rd price in 2013).
Opposite the traditional way to eat with starter, main and desert, tapas allow us eat a wide variety of different foods in small bites.
At the beginning Tapas were as simple as slides of cured pork, cheese, olives or nuts. Later you can find traditional dishes as stew, fried fish, gazpacho… served into small portions as tapas. Nowadays tapas include the two previous types and another kind: the new and innovative tapas that entered to competition each year.
It´s price, lower than a regular dish, is another advantage of tapas. Few years ago tapas were considered an starter of a main dish, but nowadays are a food by their own.
Finally, the social dimension of Tapas is one of the biggest attractions of them.
“Tapear” means make a tapas tour. People visit several bars where, in each one, they have a drink, beer or wine, with a tapa standing at the bar top.
When you eat this way social relations and conversation are served. Usually in a tapas tour the conversation is banal (trivial) but sometimes people use a tapas tour to do business, especially in Andalucía.
In certain regions of Spain as the East of Andalucía, Extremadura, both Castile and Madrid when you ask for a beer or wine the waiter serves also a small tapa for free. This kind of tapa use to be very small as one croqueta or a slice of cheese. If you want to eat more you should order “raciones” or dishes of food and you have to pay for them (since 6,00€ approx.). In this case a beer use to cost 2,00 €.
In the rest of Spain drinks aren´t served with a tapa, you should pay by both. In that case the beer is cheaper, it uses to cost 1,20€. Tapas use to cost 2,50€ or 3,00€ (the easiest) and 4,00€ for the more innovative. And those tapas are served with a bigger quantity of food.
There are thousands of tapas. They could be cold or hot, simple or well thought-out, traditional or innovative.
Tapas recipes change according to season and region, but standard offerings you’ll find across Spain will include:
Cold tapas: olives, nuts, Spanish ham, Chorizo, Salchichón, Cheese, Spanish omelette, Spanish potato salads, gazpacho, salmorejo, anchovies in vinegar…
Hot tapas: fried fish, croquetas, stew, ratatouille, rice, paella, patatas bravas…
Tapas are a gastronomic luxury accessible to everyone.