Let’s talk about tapas, shall we?

Well stocked tapas bar in Spain

I’m going to be starting a new feature all about tapas soon, so let’s start by finding about what they are.

It’s thought that originally in the wine-making regions of Andalucia, a cover in the form of a small plate or lid was placed over glasses of wine to keep fruit flies away.  Titbits of food were later placed on the lid to be eaten with the wine.

The word “tapar” in Spanish means “to cover”, which is where we get the word “tapas” from.

How wonderful that Spaniards thought it unacceptable that a fly ends up in your drink, but it´s fine if it lands on the accompanying snack!

Other stories suggest that tapas were invented by a bar owner in Seville, who decided to put a cover (tapa) over his guests´ glasses of wine, using a slice of bread to keep out flies.  He later put a piece of ham or cheese on top, so that his customers could have a bite to eat with their drink.

Rioja and scrummy tapas!

Either way, the idea spread, so that nowadays the types of food served as tapas are limitless.  Most Spaniards don´t drink alcohol without a tapa and many bars, especially in southern Andalucia, provide them free of charge.

The original Spanish “fast food” is usually displayed in refrigerated glass cabinets on the bar and served in small terracotta glazed dishes. Some examples of the type of tapas normally available include gambas (whole cooked prawns in their shells), boquerones (fresh anchovies in olive oil, vinegar and garlic), chorizo (spicy Spanish sausage), albondigas (meatball…often in a creamy almond sauce), queso (cheese…often manchego), habas con jamon (broad beans with ham), ensalada rusa (Russian salad) or just a few olives.

Delicious tapas

Your choice of tapas is usually accompanied by a small piece of crusty bread which helps to counteract the adverse effects of the alcohol through drinking on an empty stomach.

What a sensible idea!

In many establishments, if you stand at the bar along with the locals you will be given one tapa free with each drink you buy.  

That’s right …. free food!

Tapas in Spain

Should you choose to sit away from the bar, you can pay for a tapas or two (usually about one euro in this part of Spain), or opt for a larger serving known as a ración (ration) or medio ración (half ration). This is a great way to eat a variety of dishes, and a pretty sociable activity as groups generally tend to share their dishes.

The food is generally very good, even in remote villages around the Axarquia.

Where is your favourite tapas bar?   Which tapa do you choose, time and time again?


You might also like to look at:

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La Noche de San Juan: Families, fires and football!

Bus Services: East of Málaga


72 thoughts on “Let’s talk about tapas, shall we?

    • Looks very interesting. Tapas tours around Spanish cities are a great way to not only find out about the city, but to experience great food in bars and restaurants that maybe only a local would know about. 🙂

  1. Pingback: Time for tapas | Pueblo Los Arcos 4 Nerja

  2. Love your topic! Pretty much the current trend here in the East for the last few years! Can’t wait to see your posts.

  3. YUM … I like all of these. They look delicious. I’ll have one of each.
    We don’t have tapas bars here in Florida. They do have appetizers but it’s not the same. I make tapas when I have company. You can be very creative in what you choose to make.
    Hunger creating post …!!!! ~~~~~ : -)

  4. Oh my! Now that sounds absolutely delicious Marianne! I wouldn’t stop drinking! LOL!
    Great shots and post hon. Believe me, this is the first place I would visit. 😀
    Thanks for sharing. 😀 *big hugs*

    • I’ve had tapas in Australia and I have to agree with you. It’s the same in the US, and UK – usually quite expensive too. The authentic Spanish experience in Spain is very different.

      Hope you get to try it out one day!

  5. [quote]How wonderful that Spaniards thought it unacceptable that a fly ends up in your drink,
    but it´s fine if it lands on the accompanying snack! [/quote]
    If the fly lands on your snack you can brush it away. If it lands in your wine, not so easy. Rethink.

  6. Shared food is my favourite 🙂 Last time we had tapas was at Bench in Newtown – garlic-chilli grilled prawns, grilled haloumi with lemon, and olives & maple macadamias, plus a glass of pinot noir… perfect on the way home snack after a late Saturday night show 🙂

  7. Where I live the tapas are free with every drink, even soft drinks. The difference here is you don’t get a choice of ‘tapas’.
    If you want a choice you order a raciones which, as you said, you pay a nominal fee for. A typical evening in our local bar would be: a slice of barras with serano ham and cheese, a mini hamburguesa, a dish of carne en salsa or barras with gambas and tomatoe. I tend to get bloated with the amount of coke I drink just so I can continue trying the tapas ha ha.

    • Some of the bars here are the same – you get what you are given, tapas wise – but most have a choice. And yes, you still get a free tapas with soft drinks.

      Sounds like a great evening out!

  8. My favourite has to be bacalao en tomate – and it’s only 30 cents per tapas in my village! I also like to get a plato variado to share in the evening.

    • I agree Shawn – but there are some bars that we might not return to in a hurry!

      I’ve been looking at some of the suggestions on your blog for great tapas bars around Malaga. Looking forward to checking out some of those soon.

      • It’s rather like your story really:

        According to the legend, the tapas tradition in Spain began when the King of Castile, Alfonso the Wise, visited a tavern in the town of Ventorillo del Chato in the province of Cádiz, and ordered a glass of sherry.

        On this particular day there was a gusty wind, so the innkeeper served him his glass of sherry covered by a slice of ham supposedly to prevent the sherry from getting dirty – but more likely because he didn’t want to have his head cut off!

        The King finished the sherry and ate the ham, and when he asked for a second glass, he requested another tapa or ‘cover’ just like the first.
        There are alternative stories about the origin of tapas but so far this is my favourite.

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