The topic of discussion this week is tapas, which I feel is a misnomer for any small plate of food that one can order at a restaurant. The tapas craze over the last few years has led many restaurants to add a section to their menu to try and attract “foodies” who are on a quest to have an exotic experience at their neighborhood restaurant. But doing so has left the wrong impression.
Tapas in the United States has little if anything to do with the origins. In Spain, tapas are served as a side to go along with a drink of choice (think a bowl of nuts or popcorn that you find at a sports bar.) So if you aren’t having a night out drinking with friends, then you aren’t really tapeando.
Yes, tapas are small plates of food, but that doesn’t mean just any kind of food should take on its name. Some typical tapas dishes include slices of jamon serrano and queso, tortilla espanola, pinchos, olives, etc. Therefore, a balanced meal of tapas must include salt, fat and some form of protein because that is what your body needs during a night out. I would say that tortilla is probably my favorite dish of all.
Additionally, tapas are to be eaten with your hand or a toothpick. If you are enjoying your small plate with a fork and knife, you are doing it wrong. Typically Europeans have very good table manners and so they avoid eating with their hands but once you have a few drinks in your system, all bets are off. Once again, these are snacks for sharing with friends at a bar so if you are using a fork it is because 1) the plate is too far away to reach or 2) your hand is too occupied with holding your glass.
So invite your friends for a night out and now you know how to have tapas the right way. Buen provecho!