In honor of International Tapas Day, something I recently discovered, I would like to celebrate one of my favorite parts of Spanish Culture by highlighting my list of the best tapas!
But first, what’s a tapa? if you’re not familiar with a “tapa,” it is related to the American “appetizer,” but actually it’s a closer relative of the bowl of pretzels or peanuts at the bar. Overall a tapa is a smaller portion, intended for sharing. However, in Spain most tapas are free. That’s right, you read that correctly. Free. “There’s no such thing as a free lunch!” my father’s voice is scolding me in my head. Well if you insist, the tapa is free with the purchase of a beverage. Most often, a beer. In Spain, ordering a beer (which are usually cheaper to begin with), will merit you a tray of tapas to share. Order another drink? Another tapa. Another? A third tapa. They are served on a communal plate with one designated tapa per drinker. What’s great about the true tapa is that, unlike the bowl of peanuts or pretzels, the tapa is custom made for your table and doesn’t come with the risk of someone’s unwashed hands contaminating it. There is also that added bonus that the tapa is much more than just a bunch of salty, crunchy generically made product, but an in-house made warm and delicious, edible food. The true genius of the restaurant or bar providing tapas is that this really cuts down on accelerated sobriety issues, keeps customers ordering more drinks, and prevents them from leaving a “just-drink” scenario to go seek a meal elsewhere. Also the sampling of various tapas may activate your taste buds enough to actually pay for more of them.
Which leads me to my next point in tapa-awesomeness: should you find yourself hungrier and unsatisfied after your free tapa, you can of course purchase particular tapas, and pinxos, from a menu. What’s a pinxo? [Peen-show]. It’s a tapa available in a little larger portion. Pinxos are the most common relative of the American Appetizer.
American restaurants have tried to take one the concept of a tapa with mild success. Unfortunately a free appetizer served with your beer is unheard of in the US. However, many places have started adding “smaller plates” to the menu, which most resemble pinxos. I was really excited to find a local restaurant with the name “Tapas,” only to be quickly let down by the in-authenticity. There wasn’t a single Spanish tapa, nor a free tapa, on the menu, but instead you could get an appetizer from any other cuisine in the world along with a nice pitcher of semi-decent Sangria. But in lieu of free tapas, they did provide free Salsa lessons.
And now, my list of favorite authentic Spanish Tapas:
- Pulpo Gallego (Galician Octopus)
- Patatas Bravas
- Jamón Serrano on bread
5. Tortilla Española (Spanish Omelet)
6. Pan con tomate
For more future Tapas pictures and other Spanish Culture pictures- check out my instagram account: little_miss_aventura