When we talk about food, what does tapas refer to? Tapas (or tapa, if you are referring to 1 dish) is the Spanish term that refers to an appetizer, or a snack.
You might have heard Hors d’oeuvre used in the US from someone over 50. Both are basically the same thing, but let’s discuss the origin of the term.
Tapa means “top” in Spanish, which refers to how tapas-style food was created.
Spanish legends tell of a King who was unable to eat large quantities of food and wine due to an illness. Tapas are a way to eat small portions, even though kings often eat large meals.
Tapas also have another origin story. Tapas are made from Sherry, a sweet, fruity, fortified wine from Spain. To keep the flies away, people cover their wine glasses in slices of bread or meat.
These “wine toppings and coverings” are often salty so bartenders will serve these tapas alongside the wine to increase the thirst of the drinkers.
Tapas is here to stay, regardless of the origin story.
Tapas is what kind of food?
Tapas is Spanish cuisine’s signature dish. It includes small snacks and small dishes.
Tapas restaurants specialize in small, fun plates.
What are the different types of tapas?
Cocos de picar are small snacks like nuts and olives. These smoked almonds are an example.
Pinchos dishes require a utensil such as a toothpick to make a meatball, or a skewer. This margarita shrimp is a great example.
Cazuelas are small dishes or portions of dishes served with a sauce. My lamb meatballs will do the trick!
What are some traditional Spanish dishes?
Tapas may have originated a long time ago but the concept of tapas has evolved over time. Tapas can be anything from a small plate of food to share with friends, to a piece of ham that covers a glass of wine.
Tapas in Spain are typically eaten late at night so you can eat them in the afternoon before dinner.
These tapas dishes can also be regional. You might find more seafood dishes closer to the coast than you would in other areas. However, there may be more root vegetables available in other parts of the country.
Classic Spanish Tapas Dishes
- Gambas al Ajillo, tender garlic shrimps served in garlic olive oil sauce, are known as Gambas al Ajillo.
- Chopitos are deep-fried baby shrimpsquid.
- Patatas Bravas – These are roasted potatoes with rojo.
- Tortilla Espanola, also known as tortilla de patatas is a potato-egg dish
What’s the difference between appetizers and tapas?
Appetizers are, as Americans think of them, a savory appetizer that is served before the main meal.
Tapas are small bite-sized snacks or small portions of dishes that are eaten in a casual, grazing manner. Fun right?
Tapas could be as simple as marinated Olives, or as complex as a few slices meat and cheese with roasted red peppers and some nuts. It’s a lot like a Charcuterie board or cheeseboard .
Tapas can be used to describe a smaller portion of any dish or snack.
They use a similar name in the Middle East but call it Mezze, or Meze. Meze usually includes pita bread and hummus.
Tapas, whatever you call them, are basically appetizers or snack in my opinion. We don’t even have to go to Spain to enjoy tapas.
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