The history of 'tapas'
There are many legends about where tapas come from. Of the various legends on the origin of tapas, many versions involve King Alfonso XIII or King Fernando VII, while according to one of the oldest restaurants in Spain, El Ventorrillo del Chato, King Fernando VII is the subject of the tale. No matter which king it really was, all the stories go with something like this:
Following a voyage along one of the longest routes in Andalusia (south of Spain), the King arrived at a restaurant
where he was served a glass of wine with a slice of cheese over top (some say it was ham or bread). Although the King knew that the slice was being used as a 'tapadera' (a cover to protect the wine from bugs or dust) he ate it anyways, as did his entire court. Following this event it is said that the King continued to ask for "tapas" with his wine everywhere he went.
Other legends claim that the origin of tapas is related an ill King Alfonso X El Sabio (the Wise) who needed to have small snacks and small amounts of wine in between meals in order to recover. It is said that once the King got back to health, he decided that all inns and bars in the country would always need to serve a snack alongside wine.
The 'tapas' culture
We serve tapas. But what are tapas in present days? Well, according to Google, tapas are "small Spanish savory dishes, typically served with drinks at a bar." Also, according to the Royal Spanish Academy, tapas are: "A small portion of any food served to accompany a drink." In other words, a tapa, is the Spanish term for an appetizer or a snack, Here in the US, you might have heard of the term 'Hors d'oeuvre'; they are essentially the same thing. What Spaniards love most
about tapas is its social aspect: You never eat tapas on your own, they are meant to be shared, over long conversations, slow wine sipping, and probably some bar-hopping in between bites and wine glasses. Having tapas is known as a version of eating out, this style becoming so typical that consumers have started to replace long and formal meals with informal and sociable tapas. In Spanish, to eat tapas even has its own verbs; "picar", which means "to pick at" and is used to describe the way you would eat finger-foods, while tapear is a verb specifically meaning "to have tapas". You will also find that tapas follow the gastronomic tastes and traditions of each region in Spain, but that types of olives, nuts, meats and cheeses are universal to all areas. In addition to these typical tapas there is a world of possibilities in the form of different recipes that tapas bars across Spain have mastered, encompassing ingredients including meats, fish, vegetables, eggs and many other foods served in small forms
The Culinary Importance of Tapas
Tapas are of great culinary importance in Spain. The truth is that this type of eating has become a form of national identification and of cultural importance for all. Spanish cities are constantly competing to be known as one of the best places to have tapas and there are countless lists of best tapas bars by city available across the web. We've composed some of our own "best of" lists and noticed along the way that Málaga, Granada, Madrid, Seville, Cordoba and San Sebastian are often considered to be the leading authentic locations to experience the art of tapas and enjoy various Spanish delicacies.