Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, finger foods and canapés that are a part of Spanish cuisine.Though nowadays, tapas has evolved more into a style of eating & enjoying appetizers comprising of mixed olives, cheese, fried baby squid,chunk of tuna or even a cocktail onion among others.Tapas bars offer a huge variety of tapas usually flavored strongly with garlic & spices and saffron and lots of olive oil. Often tapas comprises of anchovies in olive oil or squid in a tomato based sauce. A mixed variety of olives are used in Tapas such as Manzanilla or Picual olives along with bread slices.
Tapas, plural of ta·pas
It is a Noun
Small Spanish Savoury dishes, usually served with drinks at a bar
It could also refer to a style of eating where food is informally shared
The word tapas has been derived from the Spanish verb “to cover”.
Historically, originated in Andalusia (Southern Spain) , tapas were slices of bread or meat that were used to cover glasses between sips at bars in order to prevent fruit flies from hovering over their sherry or wine. The meats used originally for Sherry were Chorizo or ham because they were salty and activated thirst. Tapas was also used to keep the aroma of the sherry or wine intact.
Over the time bartenders used their creativity and began offering a variety of tapas to their customers for a fee or as part of the charge with their drinks. Over the years tapas grew in importance and ingredients from surrounding regions and cultures were incorporated in the recipes . The Romans inspired the use of Olives and Olive oil and from the Northern Africans spices and dry fruits like almonds and oranges were added. Each town and restaurant in Spain has its unique tapas to offer. In fact there is such a vast variety that there are even tapas tours in Spain for food lovers wishing to try the variety each town has to offer! Tapas bars are also called pinxtos or pinchos due to the usage of a toothpick or pincho to eat them or even as bocas in Central America.
There are many stories as to how tapas evolved and gained importance, it is said that King Alfonso XIII & Felipe III may have had a great influence in this matter. It is said that Felipe III passed a law to curb rowdy drunken behavior among sailors & soldiers and the law stated that when one purchased a drink the bartender was to place over the mouth of the goblet or mug a small quantity of food in the hope that the food would slow the effects of the alcohol.
Since in Spain there is usually a long gap between work and dinner (since dinner is eaten between 9-11 pm in Spain there) it is common for Spaniards to visit tapas bars between work and dinner and is a great means for them to socialize. This is such a popular activity now that they have now invented a verb for it – tapear (to go and eat tapas). Tapas represents the unhurried and enjoyable nature of Spaniard in its true sense.
People have embraced this charming way of eating that tapas offers and there are many tapas style restaurants across the globe. Indian tapas bars too have adapted themselves to the local taste and have a large variety of vegetarian options apart from just olives and feta to serve. This style of dining is gaining a lot of popularity locally because it offers one the flexibility to tailor ones meal and order small portions to try different items and east light if one is not too hungry.
Tapas style of cuisine is great even for those of us wanting to entertain at home . It makes for light , easy and quick nibbles before meals and as accompaniments with drinks.* photo credit – Lindsay Olives now available through Chenab Impex Pvt. Ltd.