Food, wine and, gastronomy in general, are one of the main of the attractions for visitors of Catalonia and Spain and many come to our country with the idea of TAPAS in mind. But, what are tapas? What’s the history behind them? Do we locals really go for Tapas? Which are the most popular, the ones nobody should miss? And, most importantly, where can we find the best Tapas in Barcelona?
Today, Tapas are small plates of food accompanied by a drink but, in its origins, Tapas were invented as an accompaniment for wine. In the 13th Century, the King of Spain Alphonse X, called The Wise, disposed that all wine served in the taverns should be accompanied by some food. This way, the King tried to prevent the population from getting too drunk. The origin of the name Tapa, which means lid in Spanish, has a fable behind it. They say that King Alphonse XIII, while visiting the province of Cádiz, went into a tavern and ordered a glass of Sherry. It was windy and the sand from outside was getting into all over the place. In a quick move to prevent the sand getting into the King’s glass, the bartender put a slice of ham on top of the glass. The King enjoyed the idea of asked for another glass but with the lid (tapa) on top as well, and this is how it is said the name Tapas was invented.
As far as the Middle Age comes the tradition of Tapas, so popular today among visitors and locals in every part of Spain. Now we eat Tapas not to prevent from getting drunk, but to enjoy sharing the food in informal an informal meal. Today, almost every dish or food can be turned into a Tapa, but here’s the list of the Top Ten classic tapas that can’t be missed:
Patatas Bravas: fried potatoes with a spicy sauce.
Croquetas: fried rolls stuffed with a dough cooked with roasted meat.
Chocos or Rabas: fried coated cuttlefish.
Calamares: rings of fried coated squid.
Pulpo a la Gallega: boiled spiced octopus on top of boiled potatoes.
Chipirones: small octopus cooked with garlic and parsley.
Ensaladilla rusa: a salad made up of small pieces of boiled potatoes, carrots, peas, eggs and peppers, dressed with mayonnaise.
Pescaíto frito: small fried fish.
Queso: a plate of different cheese. Preferably Manchego Cheese.
Jamón: a plate of jamón slices. Should be Jamón Ibérico.
Pa amb tomàquet: the typical Catalan bread rubbed with tomato and dressed with olive oil.
Our Tapas guide will be continued on our next post, where we’ll tell you about some great tapas restaurants in Barcelona where locals go.