Tapas

From Academic Kids

See Tapas (Sanskrit) for the spiritual concept.

Tapas are essentially snacks. In many regions of Spain they are often included in the price of drinks (beer, wine, not spirits) served in bars. In this case, they amount to as little as a few olives, a piece of cheese, etc. Bigger portions that are ordered to make up a meal are also called tapas. It is customary to share them. In lieu of dinner many Spaniards go out for tapas, the equivalent of "bar hopping" but instead eating tapas and having a copa at each bar. Since many Spaniards are notorious for being night owls, some believe that it is this constant change of bars that helps keep the participants of a "tapas crawl" awake.

Tapa means "cover" in Spanish. While there exist various explanations for the etymology of "tapa", a commonly cited explation is that an item, be it bread or a flat card, etc., would often be placed on top of a drink to protect it from flies; at some point it became a habit to top this "cover" with a snack.

In southern Spain (Andaluca), usually when you go to a bar you get a tapa for free when you ask for a drink. This happens mostly in the province of Granada but it is not very common in the rest of Andalusia. You have to pay for both the drink and the tapa. They are also called pinchos/pintxos, because many of them have a pincho, or toothpick through them. This is used to keep whatever the snack is made of from falling off the bread it has been attached to. Another name for them is banderillas (diminuitive of bandera "flag"), in part because some of them resemble the colorful skewers used in bullfighting.

It is very common for a bar or a small local restaurant to have 6-8 different kinds of tapas in warming trays with glass partitions covering the food. Commonly they are very strongly flavored (for American tastes at least). Often one or more of the choices is seafood or mariscos, often including anchovies, sardines or mackerel in olive oil or squid or others in a tomato based sauce, sometimes with the addition of red or green peppers or other seasoning. It is rare to see a tapas selection not include one or more types of olives, but it does occur. One or more breads are usually available to eat with any of the sauce based tapas.

Upscale tapas restaurants are common in the United States, where a series of tapas are typically served as a main course.

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de:Tapa (Speise) es:Tapas fr:Tapas he:טאפס pl:Tapas zh:大巴斯西班牙餐馆

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