Tiny Plate, Big Flavor: The delicious world of tapas 

 

According to legend, while King Alfonso X traveled through the southern region of Spain, he stopped to rest in a small town in the Andalucian province of Cadíz and ordered a glass of sherry. Cadíz is known to have strong gusty winds throughout the year, so the inn keeper placed a slice of ham over the sherry to prevent it from getting dirty. Upon finishing his drink, King Alfonso X ordered another and this time he specifically requested another tapa or “cover,” to come with it. And there, in a small, dark tavern in the middle of the 1200′s is where Spanish tapas were born. (Or so they say!)

Other stories claim that King Alfonso X ordered taverns to serve food with their glasses of wine, so the alcohol didn’t go straight to the drinker’s heads on an empty stomach. Some come from a simpler reason: to keep the pesky Spanish fruit-fly out of beverages.

Regardless of which story you believe, Spanish tapas have become famous throughout the world and can be enjoyed in almost every bar and restaurant in Spain.

Tapas can can consist of almost anything: meat, vegetables, fish, cheese, bread, olives, hot, cold…the list goes on. In my mind, I consider tapas to be about a “quarter” of a regular meal size. In Spain, most restaurants offer a racíon, a full-sized plate of food, media racíon, a half plate and then a tapa, what I consider to be half of the media racíon. 

These small meals range between 1€ and 3€, so you can order a couple of them at one restaurant or go “tapas bar hopping” and not do too much damage to your wallet. Add in a couple drinks, either wine, beer, sangria, or tinto de verano, and you’ll be enjoying the typical late-night Spanish dining culture!

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