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Spanish tapas as food and culture

Tapas which means covers come from Spain. They are not just a very popular Spanish food type but also an essential part of Spanish culture.
Tapas are small portions of sausages, cheeses, seafood and other products, served on small plates. Example are the Spanish omelette and Galician octopus which are both typical of the country. Usually ordered in a bar or restaurant with a glass of wine or beer.
The history of tapas may have started with the Spanish king visiting a bar where he ordered a glass of wine, at least so goes the story that many believe. The city the king visited was on the coast with winds and sand getting everywhere so the waiter placed a slice of ham on top of the glass as a cover. The king asked for explanation. When the king ordered another drink, he also requested one with a new cover.
Going for tapas is a tradition for Spaniards leaving the work. Tapas are a great way to relax and enjoy the company of friends. Often it means going from bar to bar, trying different tapas. This is what Spaniards mean when they say "Let tapas". Going for tapas is never for a single person, there are usually groups of three to four people. Each of participants pays for a round and this ritual is sacred. Something to remember for any foreigner visiting Spain and invited for tapas.

Cold Tapas

Banderillas - Tapas called banderillas (flags) are food portions joined by a stick, so they look like the spears with flags used by matadors in Spanish bullfights. Typically, banderillas are 10cm long and include a sour and spicy flavors such as pickles, onions, olives and hot peppers. Example of a spicy banderilla: olives, smoked sweet pepper and sauteed in olive oil, dill pickle, a slice of spicy red pepper (chili) and onion in vinegar.
In the non spicy version, we replace the chilli for a piece of a sweet pepper.

Pinchos - The pincho (skewer) is a small slice of bread with a small portion of a food on top of it. The name comes from the fact that the food is pinned to the bread with a toothpick.

Spanish tapas pinchos

An example of a classic pincho is an olive wrapped in an anchovy and placed on toasted bread and served with the aioli sauce between the bread and the olive. Another beuatiful variation with an olive and anchovie is shown on the picture below.

Spanish tapa, olive with anchovie

Montaditos - The montadito is a very small snack made with some kind of bread that serves as support for food. The name comes from the Spanish word “montar” which means to mount as the small pieces of bread are mounted with different ingredients. Example of a montadito is a piece of bread with the guacamole sauce, a slice of grilled chicken and decorated with smoked pepper and chopped chives.

Spanish tapas

Hot tapas

You can use for tapas such ingredients as potatoes, mushrooms, vegetables, cheese, meat, sausages. A simple way to enjoy mushrooms, is this tapa which can be made with a variety of mushroom. The preparation is simple, piece of toasted bread with creamy and tasty cooked mushrooms. Flavoring can be done with thyme, rosemary, sage, enriched with cream or simply with olive oil. Warm brie cheese with red fruits - quick and tasty appetizer, hot melted brie cheese and topped with red fruit sweetened with brown sugar and decorated with pink pepper. A classic hot tapas are patatas bravas - potato chunks with spicy tomato sauce. Read recipe for patatas bravas.

Another hot tapas is the Spanish Garlic Shrimp, find the recipe here.

Spanish patatas bravas