The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish verb tapar or “to cover”. To cover what you may ask? Well if you reference the book The Joy of Cooking, slices of bread or meat were used by Andalusian tavern goers to cover their glasses between sips to prevent fruit flies from dropping into their sweet sherry. The meat used as a cover was usually salty ham or chorizo sausage, both of which increase thirst, thereby also increasing alcohol sales. Clever!
Tapas is also the name given to a wide variety of appetizers or snacks in Spanish cuisine. They can be cold or warm and in certain bars in Spain, North America and the United Kingdom, tapas has evolved into an entire and sometimes sophisticated, cuisine.
Tapas Legends and Folklore
According to legend, the tapas tradition began with King Alfonso X of Castile – often referred to as ‘el Sabio’ or ‘the Wise One’.
One such legend is that during an illness the King recovered by drinking wine served with small appetizers between his main meals. Once he’d regained his health, he ordered that taverns not be allowed to serve wine to customers unless it was accompanied by a small snack or “tapa” as the wine would otherwise go straight to patron’s heads.
Another claim is that while on a long trip, he stopped to rest in the town of Ventorillo del Chato in the southern province of Cádiz, where he ordered a glass of sherry. As there was a gusty wind, the inn keeper placed a slice of ham over the glass to prevent dust from blowing into the wine. King Alfonso apparently liked the idea and when asking for a second glass, he requested another tapa or “cover” just like the first.
Whatever the true origin of tapas, prepare some at home to share with friends or even better, why not pop into Bascule Bar where we’ll prepare them for you! Choose from hot and cold tapas and even a dessert selection. Bascule also has a variety of main dishes to choose from and, of course, an extensive whisky and wine list to suit all palates!
Have any favourites when it comes to tapas? Tell us about them by adding your comment below.