Tapa is a Spanish word that means snack or appetizer. This would be any food that you would normally eat before a meal or just as a snack if you’re hungry throughout the day. Traditionally, tapas are not served in regular restaurants. There may be appetizers in restaurants, but they are not considered the same as tapas. In Spain, the only types of establishments which serve tapas are bars. The food choices for the tapas may include olives, nuts, stew meat, cheese, or fried squid. Along with these foods, you will be served an alcoholic beverage like wine or beer. You could choose to just have the tapas without the alcoholic beverage, but that is rarely done amongst locals. You will likely find most people in the bars with a small plate of food and a glass of wine.
When Did Tapas Become Popular?
According to legend, tapas were founded in the 13th century by King Alfonso X of Spain. It all started one day when he suddenly became very ill. His sickness had made it difficult for him to eat his regular sized meals. So, he had no choice but to eat smaller meals throughout the day. The king was also served small amounts of wine along with these small meals. Soon after, the king recovered from his illness and attributed his recovery to this style of eating. It motivated him to pass a new decree throughout the region of Castile where he ruled. The decree stated that all inns cannot serve wine unless food is served with it. Some historians believe the decree was meant to deter poor peasants from only purchasing wine instead of food. The Story of the Tapa If you are a modern tourist in Spain, tapas will give you the opportunity to experience a wide variety of Spanish foods in small quantities. It can help make you appreciate the richness of the Spanish culture by socializing with the locals while eating their favorite foods. A lot of tapa bars in Spain will have their own version of happy hour. This is where they’ll offer a combination of tasty tapa food dishes like hummus, garlic lemon chicken, shrimp, and pine nuts. Even though these are all supposed to be snacks, many people actually find themselves getting full by simply eating lots of tapas in one sitting. This would not be totally out of the ordinary because locals are known for doing the same thing too.