“[Spaniards] are quite sophisticated people who live in a time warp or an alternative universe where the greatest joy imaginable is to eat, drink, and talk.”
-Ann & Lorry Walker, A Season In Spain
There are several conflicting accounts of the origin of Spain’s most beloved mealtime. One theory is that King Alfonso X fell seriously ill and, to speed up his recovery, only ate small amounts of food with wine. He enjoyed this so much that he continued the habit even after he returned to full health. The king’s behavior often dictated the trends of the day, so it makes sense that the rest of the country followed suit. Another theory is that when bartenders served jugs of wine they would cover the top with a slice of cured meat or bread and cheese in order to prevent flies from getting in the drink.
Regardless of which story is true, what’s important is that the tradition has only grown since then. Today Spain has more bars per capita than any other country in the world, and most of them serve tapas. They tend to be eaten as a light snack between meals in the early afternoon or evening. Friends and coworkers get together to relax and talk about the day while enjoying a leisurely drink and a bite.
Some tapas, such as croquetas and Russian salad, can be found at bars all over Spain. However, Barcelona boasts some delicious tapas unique to the region that are worth investigating. One classic Catalan tapa is calçots: grilled spring onions dipped in romesco sauce. Pa amb tomaquet, or bread with tomato, is another Barcelona staple. Catalan pizza, or coca, can be either sweet or savory and both versions are equally mouthwatering. The savory variety is usually topped with grilled vegetables and sometimes sardines. The dessert version is made with sweeter dough and sprinkled with almond chunks and sugar.
Can’t wait to try them for yourself? Come to CityLife Barcelona’s Meet & Taste to make new friends and sample some of Barcelona’s best tapas! Take a look at our events schedule to see when the next tasting is coming up! See you there!
[…] History of Tapas: […]