Let’s discover the mysterious origin of tapas. Tapas, who wouldn’t know them? The little typical Spanish dishes that everyone who comes to visit Spain love; and especially in the big cities like Barcelona, Madrid and Valencia. Indeed, many restaurants gain their daily profits with them. Even so, what is the true origin of these delicious dishes?
Like many aspects of Spanish culture, the origin of tapas came probably from Andalusia; and there are many theories about the origins of this way of eating. Starting from the meaning of the verb tapar: to butcher (the verb, not the profession!); or the word tapa meaning lid. Or, on the other hand, the legend that tells that drinks were actually covered with some kinds of food to protect them from flies or sand! Another theory holds that particularly spicy dishes, such as certain cheeses, were served as side dishes to mask the taste of bad wine.
The origin of Tapas
Apart from all of these theories, the most widely accepted today claims that the origin of tapas was in the 16th century; when King Felipe III tried to limit drunkenness on the streets by forcing innkeepers to serve small dishes with the drinks.
Whatever are the origins of this tradition, tapas are very widespread in Spain; and Barcelona is no exception. Although it tends to disappear in Spain, some bars still offer free tapas with a drink.
Originally, tapas were served after work, around 6 pm. They filled the gap between lunch and dinner, which was often served around 10 pm in Spain. Tapas kept hunger at bay, whether you were at the bar or at home.
Nowadays, tapas can be enjoyed all day long and on any occasion, whether it’s lunch with friends or a romantic date. Tapas can be served as a main course, an appetizer, or simply as a snack.
How to enjoy Tapas?
The classic way to enjoy tapas is called “tapear” in Spanish. This verb means “to go from bar to bar ordering a drink and tapas”. You will quickly discover that many tapas bars do not have seats and fill up very quickly. Sometimes you will have to shout to order!
Tapas comes from the word tapa (the plural: tapas), which is derived from the Spanish verb tapar, meaning to cover. You can literally translate it as: a lid. People think that with this definition comes from the fact that the origin of tapas was just to cover your drink with a peace of ham, bread or cheese. This was to prevent small bugs like flies from entering the glass. To conclude, the origin of tapas is actually a snack. Today, ordering many tapas to share has become a bigger tradition throughout Spain. From the origin of tapas until now, they are a meal to share with a group for lunch or dinner.
The famous variety of Tapas
Moreover, what makes tapas so incredible popular is the quality and freshness of the product, therefore really simple dishes from products of high quality are very popular.
- Tortilla Española (Spanish potato omelette)
- Pinchos (pieces of bread with spreads)
- Alioli (special made garlic sauce)
- Chorizo (spicy salami)
- Calamares (fried squid rings)
- Filled mushrooms
- Patatas bravas (potatoes in spicy tomato sauce)
- Marinated olives
- Pimientos de Padrón (fried peppers)
If you have never tasted the tapas from the ones above you really should come to visit Spain to try this lovely dishes while you can enjoy a beer or Sangria!
Where to eat Tapas in Barcelona?
The war for the best tapas or “tapes” in Catalan is still raging in Barcelona. Indeed, all bars offer them, even the smallest ones; and the choice can quickly become confusing. Take our advice: stay away from the crowded and often overpriced places on Las Ramblas, and head over to Gràcia or Poble Sec; thus you’ll get a more authentic experience. However, don’t be put off by old-fashioned storefronts or bars located in small alleys – they are often hidden gems, frequented by Barcelonians.