Tapas are delicious small plate appetizers. Sort of speaking. Yet they can also be just considered small bites. One is surely not enough to satisfy you and, in my experience – Once you have one- you are bound to have another, and another and another. Oh yes, tapas are a divine experience of Spain.
The history of tapas is not clear, and I have heard at least 10 different versions of how the “Tapa” came to be but I will let you do your own investigations so you can adopt the history that suits your fancy. The one that I have adopted, accurate or not, is that a small plate was always served with your wine or beer to cover your drink from flies and on that plate was usually a small snack. Hence the food on the plate was called a topper and thus became the tapa we know today.
However, I am not here to talk about the history of tapas, I want to talk about the WOW of tapas. This is generally what you will say the first time you walk into a true tapas bar. It is a true assault to the senses. There are cases of beautifully displayed bites, hot, cold, salty, sweet, smoked, crisp, creamy…name a flavor and texture and it is likely there on the shelf. These bars can be LOUD and you will have to work your way into the bodies to shout out, in your best Spanish, what you want. Yes, it is ok to point. Even if you know Spanish, you may not know what they are choosing to name their specialty tapas.
Traditionally you will either get one free tapa with your purchase of wine or beer OR one free wine or beer with your purchase of a tapa. This tradition is holding for the most part, but I found that occasionally some bars are um…not traditional.
In either case, you will not be out of pocket too much if you have to pay for both. This kind of dining is meant to be cheap and fast. Why? Because there is more to be tried at the next bar. So, eat up, drink up, and move on. Every bar has its specialties and so this becomes a migratory tradition. Sitting down is sometimes an option but the Spanish call this the art of eating standing up.
Anchovies you may have heard are in EVERYTHING! Well, that is not true, but they are in many things. However, as a man who has said more than once, “I hate anchovies!” I think while I was in Spain I may have fallen in love. It’s all on how it is presented and integrated, and those Spaniards showed me how to do an anchovy dish right. DO NOT BE AFRAID! Try it. Be sure that it is a popular bar, of course. I can not promise everyone has that skill.
How do you know it’s popular? You can ask or just look for the places that you are not sure you could possibly squeeze into to holler out your order. You can easily spend your night…sometimes into the morning just having a bite here and there and drinking. Soon after will come the Spanish art of laying down. HA!
Side note: If you have a fear of crowds or speaking up…do it anyway! Oh yes, it is going to be worth it. If on the other hand you just can’t manage to muster that courage, there are some more “sophisticated” places to get AMAZING food at an equally AMAZING price and half the fun. Your choice. For me…shy is not worth it…and actually, I am kind of shy by nature until I know I am going for tapas. Then, LOOK OUT!
In this category of WriterMcLay site, I will begin to post recipes that you can try on your own, restaurants that are known for amazing tapas, and if I find any amazing videos worth linking I will post them so you can venture over for some great tapas visuals.
This is how you enjoy life…One bite at a time.