Any meal can be a tapa as long as it is served in a small dish with your beer, brut cava, or wine. Going out for tapas is a social activity in Spain, although you can enjoy them at home, too. Tapas are usually eaten in bars, with friends, before the main meals. However, on many occasions, tapas become the meal itself instead of the appetizer or starter. You can also prepare a dinner based only on tapas.
They are always part of family celebrations, birthdays, etc.
Tapas can be simple: olives, ham, cheese, crisps1, or more elaborate meals. They are also part of high cuisine. Ferran Adrià, the most international of Spanish cooks, prepares 'deconstructed' tapas at his famous restaurant El Bulli.
Tapas can be free in many places.
These tapas are just a tiny sample of what you can find in Spanish bars.
Served on toast
- Pan Tumaca: toasted bread with olive oil, tomato and Serrano ham (rub the toast with garlic, optional). Instead of ham you can use anchovies, smoked salmon...
- Avocado with caviare: mix some mashed avocado, spring onion (thinly cut), olive oil and some lemon juice. Spread the mixture on the toast, put caviare or a substitute on top.
- Pisto con atún: spread pisto (a mixture of fried onion, green and red pepper in tomato sauce) on a slice of toast and put a slice of tuna fish on top.
- Tapenade of black or green olives (serves four): mix 250 grams stoneless olives, four spoonfuls of capers, one garlic clove, two spoonfuls of mustard, eight spoonfuls of olive oil and some black pepper in a mortar or in the blender. Add thyme if the mood takes you. This mixture is a base for the toast, to which you could add sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies, or grilled vegetables. It can be used in salads, too. The mixture should be stored in the fridge. It will last for several days.
- Other: Use your imagination and good bread as basis.
- Patatas bravas: diced fried potatoes served with tomato sauce and hot pimentón ( you can also use hot paprika or Tabasco). Some people add a drop of vinegar.
- Patatas alioli: cubes of boiled potatoes served with a mayonnaise with garlic. Served topped with chopped fresh parsley.
- Stuffed eggs 1: Remove the yolk of hard boiled eggs and mix it with tomato sauce and tuna fish. Stuff the white with this mixture, cover with mayonnaise and decorate with sliced olives.
- Stuffed eggs 2: Mix the yolks with chopped anchovies and mayonnaise. Stuff the whites and decorate with olives and strips of roasted red pepper.
- Mushrooms al ajillo: Sliced mushrooms (raw or fried) dressed with a mixture of crushed garlic, parsley, olive oil, vinegar and salt.
- Figs and ham: Served cold or hot. If hot, put a fig cut in half in the frying pan or any heated surface for a few seconds, then put the halved figs on a dish, dress with olive oil and place a slice of Serrano ham on top.
- Olive biscuits: Add black and green chopped olives, oregano and grated Manchego cheese (or any mature tasty cheese) to some biscuit dough. These biscuits can be used to dip in tomato sauce or as a base for other tapas.
More: Remember that any meal can be a tapa: paella, meat in sauce, roasted vegetables... You should only worry about the presentation of the tapas. Sight is the first sense which enjoys a meal. Also, bear in mind that beer, brut cava and white wine marry well with any meal, but red wine and fish are difficult to match.
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1 Chips outside the UK.
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