Tapas Anyone?

the history of tapas - Spain

Ah, that magical word: tapas. Just the sound of it can cause instant salivation. Most of us think of these bite-size dishes as savory treats from the Spanish chef-gods. But, surprisingly, these fabulous plates (always accompanied by a libation) have relatively humble beginnings.

There are two stories about how tapas came to be, both of which have not been confirmed. The first states the “˜tapa’, or ‘cover’ was actually a piece of meat used by kings to cover their drinks. There are three disputed reasons to why the kings would cover their drinks: to protect it from flies, to hide the smell of bad wine, or to keep the drink from toppling when it was windy outside. The most believable explanation of the three is certainly the notion that kings used the tapas to keep flies out of their drink.

The second story tells of a king who could not drink alcohol without eating something to coat his stomach. It is believed that the king insisted that everyone should eat while drinking to combat any health issues associated with imbibing on an empty stomach.

It’s important to know that just as the kings required food to accompany the wine, so do most restaurants and true tapas eateries. In fact, many eateries in Spain will give free tapas when a customer orders a libation. Restaurants, on the other hand, almost always charge for individual tapas plates.

So today, we are thankful for the kings and the peculiar drinking habits — whichever may be true — that ultimately brought tapas to Spain and subsequently other countries around the world.

Photo by: Ewan-M/the history of tapas


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