Last weekend it was held a Tapas Fair in Madrid and there were very long queues to get in. There you could see many delicious samples of different tapas from many different bars and restaurants.
Probably to anyone who hasn’t been to Spain the word “tapa” will mean nothing, but to those who have been, they will know that “tapas” and “tapear” is an art and a culture in Spain. “Tapa” means a cover or lid. The first tapa was probably a sliced of chorizo or a slice of cured ham perched over the mouth of a glass to keep the flies out. Later the government demanded the bars to serve “a little something” in the way of food with each drink to dissipate the effects of the alcohol. Eating a selection of tapas as you drink will help preserve your sobriety!
Tapas is a little plate snack that you are given to accompany the drink you have ordered in the bars, tascas or tabernas, they are a style of eating. Sometimes you have large plates of tapas on the counters and you point at the ones you want, other places have plates with single-serving tapas built on slices of bread with a toothpick holding the sculpture together and other places might list a menu on a card or chalk board. There you might find the words “ración”, “tapa” and “pincho”. Usually a pincho is a little bite, for one person, a tapa is a small serving but a bit bigger than a pincho and a racion is a large ration or full plate for several people.
Some of the most common tapas includes: grilled shrump kabobs, grilled paprika-seasoned pork kabobs, olive oil with little green pepper with a dash of sea salt (pimientos del Padron) garlic sauteed mushrooms, different cheeses, sausages and Iberian cured ham, wedges of Spanish omelette with potatoes and caramelized onions, marinated grilled vegetables, salsa stuffed mussels, fried artichoke heart and so on........... If you get to master this art you will eat incredibly well in many cities in Spain.
So when you eat with tapas, you are doing “tapeo”, that is, the act of strolling from one bar to another to stay amused, (it would be like a sort of pub-crawl in England). And in all Spanish cities there are several popular places to go “de tapeo”. Probably they may have originated in Andalusia, especially around Jerez de la Frontera, where they were traditionally served to accompany the sherry produced there.
And definitely "tapear" is something you can not miss when you come to Spain!