The Evolution of Spanish Tapas

by Allie Moore

Aug 15, 2016

© Tania Castán | Dreamstime

Food & Drink

In recent news, the most quintessential food in Spain is a possible candidate for UNESCO protection as an intangible cultural heritage. The small bites of food known around the world as Spain´s culinary darling comprise a variety of meats, seafood and cheeses, and vary depending on the region of Spain.


The concept of tapas comes from the southern part of the country where summer temperatures can reach scorching heights. Diners who ordered a beverage and a small plate of food used to place the plate on top of their drinks to prevent flies from entering the wine or beer. The Spanish word for a top on a drink is tapa, and thus the culinary innovation began.


Since then, nearly anything served as a small portion can be considered tapas, but the most famous versions include patatas bravas (fried cubes of potato with a spicy sauce), croquetas (breaded cylinders of ham or seafood and béchamel sauce), pimentos del padrón (sweet green peppers grilled and sprinkled with salt) and plates of jamón and queso (ham and cheese), among others. At some restaurants and bars in southern Spain, a drink order automatically is accompanied by a tapa such as seafood risotto or grilled octopus in olive oil.


Tapas lend themselves to the Spanish way of dining that involves gathering a group of friends and family, sharing a pitcher of sangria or cerveza and celebrating life. ¡Buen provecho!



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