Eating tapas in Spain

Rocio at a great mussels bar El Rocio. 
I've decided to share a few customs I've noticed about eating tapas in Spain.  Tapas or small plates are servings of food eaten as a meal or as a snack with drinks. The word "tapas" means "lid" which links to the origin of the custom- when restaurants would cover drinks with a plate of food to prevent the person from becoming too inebriated.  Also it's hospitable.
1.  Share and Split.  When eating Tapas, generally everyone shares and thus the check is split among the total amount of people.

2.  Drink with the group.  The hope is that everyone will also be drinking about the same amount of alcohol, so it is wise to keep up so that you are getting your money's worth.

3.  Dare to try new food.  I believe that you should try each tapas at least once in your life. (unless you have a dietary or moral reason).

4.  Generally each person orders a tapas to share.
Inma laughs while eating a tapas.

5.  If you are on a budget, no worries, in Spain you can eat really good tapas for a low price.  It's even better if you are in a tapeo zone in Granada.  Here you can select a free house tapas with every drink you order.

6.  Dig In.  Table manners we are accustomed to in the U.S. are different in Spain, it's okay to dig your fork into the communal plate and even use your hands when necessary, (like eating a pig ear or kabob).

7.  Order a Variety.  I believe in the balance of tapas, I like to have a range of hot and cold items, meat and vegetable, cheese and fruit.  Tapas vary by region so eat local.

8.  Tapas do not come out at the same time, but rather in the order that they are finished, so it is constant surprise.

9.  After the majority of the tapas have been consumed, it is customary to check and see if anyone needs more tapas.

Standard tapas might include:
Tortilla espanol, olives, pan tumaca, manchego cheese and quince paste, patatas bravas, patatas alioli, calimari (fried or grilled), octopus (fried or grilled), cuttle fish (grilled), mixed fish fried, mushrooms in sherry, white asparagus, stuffed mushrooms, sardines, chicken wings, pincho morunos (pork kebabs), migas (a stuffing), sausage platter, albondigas (meatballs), eggplant, empanadas, croquetas, steamed mussels, oysters, russian salad, shrimp, blood sausage, ceviche, stuffed peppers, deviled eggs, lima beans, jamon serrano .  There are many more but perhaps this at least has got your mental food palette dreaming. 
Cam and I satisfied from our meal.
Tapas are a way of eating, that emphasizes not only shared food, but shared conversation.  The thing I love about tapas, is when I leave the table I am totally satisfied, not hungry, but also not stuffed.

The Magic Continues...
After eating tapas, a recent summer night in Spain, we headed to a Cuban bar.  Following mojitos, I was surprised and delighted to see Cam, who never dances despite all my pleading, agree to dance with me.  He twirled, dipped, and led me around the room, my friends jaws dropped.  They applauded his moves and later told me "he was a better dancer than you!"  I give credit to the tapas. 
Oscar twirls Laura.

Heading for Home.


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