Anyone who has ever been to Spain or knows anything about Spain has heard of Spanish tapas. It is as much a part of Spanish dining as is jamon. Spanish tapas are small portions which can really be of anything. One misconception about tapas is that it is a type of food but really tapas mean a small portion and by small portion, it can really be a small portion of anything….cheese, tortilla and even paella. It is said that the concept of tapas began in Sevilla and can be attributed to King Alfonso in the 13th century who fell ill and was prescribed small bits of food to accompany his wine. Of course, this was a remedy to help him get better. After this, bars in Spain were expected to serve tapas with drinks. The word tapa comes from the word tapar which means to cover. Another idea about its origins, is that while out for a drink at the local bar, clients would put a piece of bread or small plate on their glass to prevent flies from getting into their drinks. Whatever the true origin of tapas, we love the idea.
Spanish tapas are typically eaten standing at the bar and the term used to go out for tapas is tapeo. Tapas are not really part of a sit down meal but picar which means picking, as in picking at some bite sized snacks. It is a more casual way of dining and often as an in between snack until dinner time. It is said that the right way to go for el tapeo is to have no more than two tapas at each place and then move on to the next venue. It’s definitely a fun way to make your rounds and explore new places and flavors. But don’t be confused between a tapa and a racion. A racion is a larger meal sized serving.
Granada is one of the few cities in Spain that still gives one tapa with every drink ordered. The more drinks you order the tastier the tapas you receive are. While in Granada we must admit that we had a few mediocre tapas but we did find one place that made us not want to leave. The place itself was very old school in decor, definitely nothing fancy but the tapas were amazing! We could see the kitchen from where we were sitting at the bar while everything that was being prepared. Each tapa they brought out to us was just so good but after our share of canas (beers), we were definitely on tapas overload.
Needless to say, no visit to Spain is complete without a night of tapeo.