All You Need to Know About TAPAS
In tapas bars, people most often stand or sit on high bar stools.
WHAT ARE TAPAS?
Tapas are small portions of food. This definition is quite surprising to many people because they associate the term "tapas" with a specific recipe or dish. In terms of content, however, "tapa" can be anything. Of course, there are more traditional and less traditional tapas dishes, but even the least traditional are still tapas.
"Una tapa", "dos tapas"
The ideal raw ingredients for tapas are anchovies - cheap, universal and have a strong taste.
On a traditional Spanish menu, dishes are divided into three sizes. "Tapa", ½ serving and whole serving. "Tapa" is a small dessert plate or bowl. ½ the portion is roughly one portion we are used to here in the UK and the whole portion is twice as much. Of course, some dishes are not suitable for serving in a small portion (eg whole baked fish), and therefore some dishes lack the possibility of becoming tapas.
Some dishes are definitely not suitable for tapas due to their size and you will never have these served as "tapa".
In some restaurants, in addition to the normal menu, there is an "unwritten" menu. This is displayed in refrigerated display cases in a usually stainless steel bar, which is often exclusively reserved for tapas.
Fried eggplant with honey or cane molasses.
Did you know the word "tapa" means a lid which is used for covering something? Originally, the tapas were said to have been created when little plates with some nibbles were served along with drinks. These plates were used to cover glasses and jugs so that flies would not fall into them.
ALL TAPAS for FREE
Can you believe there are many areas of Spain in which tapas are served free of charge with every drink? The center of this free tapas paradise is Granada, but it also thrives in Almería and the Galician Lugo. These are proper tapas, no cheated freebies.
When you order one caña (small beer) you will also get a small plate with bechamel croquettes, vegetable pistons, fried anchovies, lamb skewers in cumin, albondigas meatballs in tomato or almond sauce, paella or one of the other dozens of rice variants, patatas bravas, fried eggplant with honey, dried cod croquettes, two large prawns with olive oil, census and parsley, fried shark in sour batter, salty or sour anchovies, etc.
In some bars one can choose from the menu, in others, you must be satisfied with whatever lands on your table. The waiter usually makes sure that the tapas do not repeat themselves, so he yells at the kitchen: I want two tapas, but does not specify which ones.
A small beer in Granada costs from 1.50 Euro to 2.50 Euro, and if a person lives there, it often happens that he orders a beer and tells the staff not to bring any tapas. Sometimes locals even go to the few bars that don't serve tapas with drinks, so that they can enjoy just the drink.
Free "salmorejo" (tomato cream with olive oil, egg and jamon) with your beer.
SOME FREE TAPAS
Outside the "all free tapas" area, you can often get a small tapas with your drink. Mostly in the form of fried chips, a cheap mixture of spicy nuts or if you are lucky, olives.
In most bars and restaurants, tapas is paid for, which often strikes a person from Granada or Lugo. The menu offers usually starts with olives, which cost about one euro, and then some simple vegetable tapas for two euros to the meat tapas for 2.50-3.00 Euros. Of course, tapas cost a lot more in more luxurious restaurants with creative kitchens.
You will not find this "gazpachuelo" on offer for free anywhere.
This potato salad with olive oil, oranges and olives is popular in southern Spain in summer.
SOME TAPAS RECORDS
THE DRIEST TAPA
There are several dry tapas, but the most common are simply fried chips.
Fried anchovies marinated in lemon are a popular tapa on the Mediterranean coast of Spain.
THE MOST COMMON TAPA
Definitely olives in various forms. Almost always with a stone, most often green. In Malaga, there are very popular so-called aloreñas, crispy and bitter with a large dose of garlic, thyme and fennel.
Classic crispy aloreñas
THE BEST TAPA
We recommend Bocadillo de rabo de toro, which is a grilled sandwich stuffed with a super-concentrated taste of bull's tail served with crushed red wine. The intoxicating taste of the torn bull's tail is refreshed by red ice sheets, which immediately dissolve on the tongue and release a drop of red wine into the torn meat.
THE LEAST FAVOURITE TAPA
Inland, you can often get pork legs in a sauce with peppers and possibly chickpeas. It is not a food that melts on the tongue...
THE BEST TAPA WITH JAMON
There are countless varieties of tapas with jamon. It starts with a slice of jamon with picos (sticks), continues through fava beans with jamon, mushrooms with jamon, asparagus with jamon, and ends with mussels with jamon. Habas con jamón, fava beans on onion and olive oil with pieces of jamón.
THE MAGIC OF TAPAS
"Ir de tapas" (let's go for tapas) immediately in Spain evokes a day or evening without unnecessary conventions, full of fun and noisy conversation. Traditionally, tapas are in direct contrast to a candlelit dinner with expensive wine and romantic music.
At tapas bars, people often stand at the bar and consume the tapas all evening long. Tapas are popular during the day too. If you don't want to stuff yourself just with one big meal, start with one tapa and be adding more as you wish, tasting nay different flavours.
Spaniards love to share their food. If you order a portion of food or tapas, your fellow diners will join in without asking, and the same is expected from you.
Tapas are a genius invention that allows you to taste many different dishes in one evening, which, according to the knowledge of how the brain works, brings you a lot more fun and joy than spending the whole evening with one big meal.