Tapas: eat, talk and enjoy
According to the Larouse Gastronomique dictionary: 'Tapas are an assortment of hors d'oeuvres or appetizers served in Spain to accompany sherry, manzanilla, beer, local wine or other beverages'. The dictionary points out that: 'in Spain the custom of having tapas at aperitif time is very widespread' and that 'sometimes they serve as a whole meal, as they are varied and plentiful'. Undoubtedly, a very accurate view of a way of enjoying traditional Spanish food, which we have also exported to the world with such delicious snacks as patatas bravas, pickled mussels, fried foods, croquettes and a long etcetera.
Tapas are transformed into pintxos in the Basque Country, and people don't go for tapas, they go for pinchos. In cities like Granada, the tapa becomes a portion and is implicit when ordering a drink. In other areas, such as Calle Laurel in Logroño or the Barrio Húmedo in León, it is common to have a wine and accompany it with a good tapa at a very moderate price, and so make the journey from one establishment to another, as each place has its own specialities. There are versions to suit all tastes, although the key is not to eat tapas alone, or in just one place.
Croquettes, one of the stars of the tapas on offer. Author: Jonathan Pincas
Apparently, the etymological origin comes from the custom of covering the wine glasses in taverns and inns with a slice of bread that would be complemented by the sausage or cheese that was cut directly with the knife and placed on top of the slice. The reason? Possibly the absence of plates, also so that insects would not get into the wine or even dust. The idea is attributed to Alfonso X the Wise and his recommendation to drink something with the wine to avoid the excesses of alcohol.
The characteristic bars of San Sebastian, full of pintxos. Author: Marcus Hansson
It is common to find signs referring to Spanish tapas on the doors of some bars in New York, London or Dublin. Tapas in our country has become a form of socialising and has even changed the morphology of entire neighbourhoods, as in San Sebastián, Logroño, León or Madrid, where some have been transformed into hotbeds of people pilgrimaging from one bar to another in search of the enjoyment of the different specialities. This informality, the hustle and bustle and the versatility of eating tapas is one of the reasons why tapas are so popular all over the world.
Patatas bravas are world famous and have an infinite number of variations in their preparation. Author: Krista
In the heat of the tapas craze, a multitude of establishments, also known as gastrobars, have sprung up where this informal cuisine has been elevated to haute cuisine levels, such as Albert Adriá's Tickets in Barcelona (one of the fifty best restaurants in the world), Francis Paniego's Tondeluna in Logroño or Paco Roncero's Estado Puro in Madrid. It is not a tapas bar to bar, bar to bar, most of these places have high and low tables, where you can eat hot and cold tapas and where international miniature cuisine is often introduced, such as Japanese sushi or Peruvian ceviches, beautifully presented and excellently cooked.
Guijuelo ham is the most awarded ham in the world.. Author: Valdavia
The most popular tapas are ham croquettes, boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar), cured meats: mainly those containing Iberian ham, patatas bravas, potato omelette, seafood, prawns in gabardine, seasoned olives or fried squid... many of which are authentic delicacies prepared by chefs such as José Andrés in Washington or Nacho Manzano in his restaurants in London.
The best drink with a tapa is the one that appeals to you the most. From Vivanco we suggest accompanying it with a good wine that will only enhance the pleasurable experience of eating a tapa.