Some people assure that it was the King Alphonso X who stipulates that in Castilian houses, we didn’t have to serve wine without something to eat. This in order to avoid that the wine rise to the head.
First, the tapa was settled on a pitcher or on the glass served to cover it (tapar means cover): It was served to accompany drinks and to avoid that some flying guest come in the precious drink. About this time, tapa consisted in a Ham or chorizo slices and as one goes along, it was substituted by pieces of cheese. In Don Quichotte, Cervantes called tapas “llamativos” and quevedo “aviso” or “avisillo”.
Some people assure that the tapa story was born after the following story:
The king Alfonso XIII did an official visit in Cadiz, passing in front of the tavern of the Chato, he stopped a moment to take a rest and asked a Sherry drink, but when the waiter wanted to serve, there was a draught and, the waiter had the wonderful idea to cover the glass because he didn’t want to put sand in it. The king liked this idea, so I ate the tapa, drink his glass and ordered another. Seeing this, every members of the Court did the same. As we can see, it is more or less the same story but with different protagonists.
The Spanish Royal Academy defines it as any pieces of food able to accompany a drink. Moreover, the tapa has different names according to the place where it is served. In Aragon and Navarra, it is called “alifara”, for the Basque, “poteo”.
The drink which generally accompanies the tapas is the wine, even if, most of time, people naturally choose beer.
With time, a lot of tapas were created. In the past, it was what xe have said before whereas now, added to olives and dries fruits, you can have a piece of cheese, which added one to others, can substitutes to the dinner. Never consider the tapa as the equivalent of the American fast-foods. Its practice rhymes with friendship and camaraderie.