The word “tapas” excites most people who travel to Spain, especially foodies. These delectable mini-meals traditionally come in small portions (so you can try many of them in one sitting), are acceptable to eat any time of day, are served at almost every Spanish bar, and depending on the area come free when you order a drink! In fact, most bars in Alcala offer a free tapa with every drink you order. Can’t beat that deal.
Becca Fogel, New Jersey, USA.
So, whether you are a student on a tight budget and want a small beer with a fried calamari sandwich for only 3-4 Euro, or a gastro-lover looking to explore Spain’s cuisine (or both) – tapas are for you.
Some traditional tapas include croquetas (small bread-crumbed rolls often containing ham or shrimp with mashed potatoes), the tortilla española (Spanish omelette), and patatas bravas (potatoes with aioli). In addition, many tapas come in the style of a piece of bread with any variety of meats, vegetables and/or cheeses on top, for convenient eating. At most tapas bars, you will also notice the large number of red meats on the menu, such as lomo (pork loin), chorizo, and jamon (ham).
Ok, quick history break: while tapas now have international fame and range from simple bar food to fancy gourmet drool-worthy bites (depending where you go), it is interesting to note tapas have a very modest roots in health concerns. The word tapa itself (which means lid/cover) comes from the old tradition of covering a drink with a single piece of meat or bread to keep the flies out.
So, let’s take a moment to thank the flies for contributing to tapa culture!
One last thing to remember: though tapas are delicious, they are more than just food. In Alcala, one of the best activities for a sunny afternoon is to sit outside with friends and share tapas and cold drinks. In Spain, and specifically Alcalá (home to several excellent tapas bars), tapas are practically synonymous with good food, good friends, and long hours of laughter.
….A tapear! (“let’s tapa!”)