Tapas O Tapas, the fantastic Spanish nibble, the variety, the deliciousness and the sheer volume of tapas makes it a quintessential part of Spanish culture and identity. Sure you can get tapas anywhere now, go to a Spanish restaurant chain in the UK or a €1 tapas bar on the Spanish Costa, to sample these delicious small plates with a cold drink. However, tapas is a dish best served free…unbelievably the concept of a FREE tapas with a drink is still alive and well in the Granada region of Spain. We have been spoilt rotten with an incredible range of culinary creations, all provided gratis, and in our local village we were even rewarded with a family sized portion of tapas when ordering coffee!
Did the concept of Tapas start when a 13th century Spanish King was too ill to eat larger plates of food? Or was it when another king ordered a drink in windy Cadiz and it came served with a slice of ham on top? As Tapa means lid or cover, it is also possible that sherry was served at farmer’s bars with a saucer on top to keep flies out and to encourage return visitors small portions of food were placed on top of the saucers. Whatever the origin, Tapas is a deep rooted tradition and an important part of Spanish culture.
During the long two hour Spanish lunches, large groups will stand at the bar socialising over a drink and a delicious tapas. Although the Granada region is infamous for free tapas we have been treated to varying styles of Tapas throughout Spain. In the North of Spain we had pinchos (the ingredients are speared onto small breads by a cocktail stick); sometimes the customer selects a tapas on display or a waiter will surprise you with each drink ordered. Tapas is now a worldwide concept, we have also visited establishments that serve fine dining gastronomic Tapas. However, we have to admit that after living in the Granada region, famed for it’s Tapas and bargain prices, we have to admit that Granada is the best place to sample this Spanish fayre. The bars seem proud to offer Tapas, host Tapas fairs and compete for the best Tapas in the village award.
The variety of free tapas has been amazing, you just don’t know what will arrive next, a bowl of crisps, a plate of prawns, mini paellas, slices of ham, fried sardines, salad, pork, chicken, tortilla, stewed goat, croquettes…
In the city of Granada tapas is often only reserved for alcoholic drink, in the campo (countryside) we would often be served with a family sized plate of one of the above when ordering two soft drink and then another plate with two coffees! A soft drink usually costs €1.50 and a coffee €1.20. Four drinks and two large plates of food for around €5!
Often we would be tucking in before we could remember to take a photo, we had to literally hold the boys back, but here is a small selection of the many free tapas we have enjoyed.
Long live this fantastic element of Spanish culture!,