Spanish Tapas


origins of the spanish tapas

Choosing a selection of Spanish tapas in a good bar in Spain is one of the joys of a good holiday and one of the, hopefully, daily joys of living here! It’s a habit you can get used to very quickly!

So what are Spanish tapas and when do you have them?

Spanish tapas have been around for centuries and really have changed very little.

There are various ideas about their origin but as the verb “tapar” means to cover in Spanish we will stick with the theory that they originated as a small snack that you could balance on your glass to keep the flies out.

Anyone who has lived in Spain, especially in the summer in the South, will appreciate that if you turn your head for one second there is a pesky fly in your drink when you go to take your next glug!

The original spanish tapas was a small slice of the salted and dried ham (Jamon Serrano).

This was a clever ploy on the landlord’s part because the saltiness, like our more modest peanuts, makes you thirsty so you order another drink!

Spanish Tapas were originally free!

Tapas were free originally – the bar could afford the loss! They still are in more rural parts of Spain and in some parts of the North.

bread and jamon are a staple spanish tapas

However from the humble slice of ham the tapa has exploded into an amazingly varied selection of small treats which can really be eaten at any time of the day. Most people will eat spanish tapas a short while before lunch or supper as something to keep you going (and absorb the alcohol of course)!

One or two of these 2 or 3 mouthful snacks can serve as a meal as well and friends will often order a selection of raciones or media raciones (larger sized helpings) to share between them.

Spanish Tapas are the ultimate social food

Tapas are the ultimate sociable food and are often eaten standing at the bar chatting before you wind your way home.

Most bars will have a selection of cold and hot tapas prepared freshly every morning and all displayed in the mouth-wateringly arranged cold cabinets behind the bar.

If you prefer a hot tapa you can make a selection from pinchitos (kebab sticks), meatballs, carne in salsa (meat in a sauce with a few chips) fried prawns or spicy prawns (gambas and gambas pil-pil), small fried fish, croquettes (croquetas), liver on toast(!)

Patatas Bravas are a common tapas favorite

The list is endless and each bar has its specialities.

For cold tapas (available even when the cook is off shift) think salads, ham, cheese, olives and anchovies in oil, cooked pork rib in small pieces (chicharrones) and quails eggs.

Are you hungry yet?

The Serrano ham and the Manchego cheese are the real classic stars of the tapa but also the most expensive!

Salads come in all shapes and sizes from the humble Russian salad (ensaladilla rusa) to shell fish and octopus salad to very elegantly prepared stuffed half avocadoes!

king of spanish tapas - Jamon!

A spanish tapa will set you back between 1 and 1.5 euros (more for the expensive ham) and is a much nicer aperitif than a packet of crisps, honestly!

My favourite of all time is a tiny fried quail’s egg on half a slice of toast with a miniature slice of bacon, ooh or toasted bread with goats cheese and bacon.

Spanish Tapas..oh what fun!


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