You’ve probably heard a lot about tapas and are wondering, what are tapas and how will we try them when we get to Spain? Well, you need not worry about finding tapas– they are all over Spain! This is a guide to the hot and cold appetizers, known to Spanish cuisine, as well as their history.
History of Tapas | What are tapas?
Let’s start with answering the big question, what are tapas? Tapas are normally a small savory snack that you can get in bars & restaurants all over Spain. Some people believe that these snacks received their name because the snacks were covered with a lid in a bar to keep the flies away. Other people believe that the origin goes back to Alfonso X of Castile, who recovered from illness by drinking wine and small snacks. He decided that when customers were serves wine, they should always have a ‘tapas’ along with it. As a regional dish, the ingredients of tapas vary as one travels through Spain with a huge variety of ingredients used throughout the country.
Types of Tapas to try | Regional differences
The name given to tapas in northern Spain is “pinchos” which is typically a small piece of bread with a delicious topping. The tapas in this region are warmer; as you head south and the temperature outdoors warms, the tapas are served colder. They may have a toothpick through them to distinguish the size or price as well as to keep the snack from falling apart. With colder winters, the inland area favors such warm dishes as patatas bravas (potatoes in spicy tomato sauce), delicious snack that we definitely recommend you trying. In the south, you might find a dish such as ensaladilla rusa (Spanish potato salad), a colder type of tapas which is equally as tasty. Head to the coastline and your taste buds might encounter more fish-like tapas, such as sardinillas en conserva (pickled sardines).
With minimal preparation involved in real Spanish tapas, they often contain cheeses, cold meats and pickles. Potato omelettes, known as tortilla, might be served in a bar. Other types of tapas include magro con tomate (pork with tomato) or pipirrana (tomato, pepper and onion salad); the bar can easily prepare large amounts of tapas and store them for use as the day goes on. Types of tapas include nuts and crisps, skewers of olives, tortilla de patatas (hot or cold omelettes), fish or sardines, roasted vegetables or a combination of meat and cheese served on white bread.