Imagine you are thinking of Spain, what’s the first thing that comes up in your mind? Maybe the Paella, the Corridas de Toros or the Camino de Santiago. There are actually many things that make you think of Spain, but the most traditional is definitely the tapas!
In fact, tapas are a tradition that actually exists only in this country, and everybody who comes here get astonished of this habit, as simple as original.
For this reason, we decided to tell you the story of the tapas, how they born and the tradition that keeps this habit still alive.
First of all, what are precisely the tapas? The Real Academia Española defines this term as “any portion of solid food that can be eaten with a drink”.
Said so, if you go to a café or a pub and ask for something to drink, waiter will automatically give you a tapa, something to eat with the drink; this happens in almost all the parts of Spain.
As every respectable story, there are a lot of legends related with the birth of the tapas, and each of them reminds to the King Alfonso XIII (1886 – 1941).
The anecdote tells that the King, during an official visit to Cádiz, asked for a glass of Jerez, but precisely in that moment the window went opened by a gust of wind, so, in order to avoid that sand would filled the wine, the waiter put a slice of ham over the royal glass. King asked to the waiter why he did so, and he replied, apologizing, that this was a “tapa” to avoid sand would end in the wine. Apparently king liked the idea, ate the tapa, drunk the wine, and ordered for another one, with “another tapa, the same as before”. As expected, the royal members who were with the king asked for the same, and this is how the tapa is born.
But reality is far different from the legend; in fact, the tapas are born as a need for farmers and workers to consume a little amount of food during the work day, in order to keep on working till lunch time. The break needed wine, because alcohol increased the enthusiasm and the strengths, and during the winter warmed the bodies up, in order to face the freezing cold of the field. On the other hand, during the summer the typical drink was the Gazpacho, instead of wine, because the latter would cause stifling sensation to a body that needs more soft-drink than cool one.
For this reason, the glass or the jug of wine was to be served covered with a slice of cold meat or ham, that used to have two purposes: avoiding that insects or spots in the wine, and helping the customer to drink the alcohol with something solid.
This was the origin of the word “tapas”, the piece of food used to cover (in Spanish “tapar” means “to cover“) the glass of wine.
From then till now, all parts of Spain still follow this tradition, firm and well-settled, that has been adopted in other countries as well.