Tapas are popular snacks that originated in Spain. They have assorted key ingredients that vary from being an appetiser to a full-course meal, normally served in small amounts or on enormous plates. Tapas are either free or ordered in a bar. The varieties are endless, and it’s one of the major reasons people all over the world love it. They are essentially a lifestyle, and every bar defines itself with the diverse tapas served.
In Spain, you won’t normally find the word “tapas” in a bar’s menu. You may, however, find the word “raciones” – which means “rations” or large servings – or “media raciones“, servings in half a plate.
The Limitless Variations
Tapas can be anything – from tuna chunks to fried baby squid (chopitos), chorizo sausages and many others. In many local bars and restaurants around Spain, tapas contain strong spices and herbs. Seafood-based tapas are often served as well, sometimes with either heap of olive oil in them, or with green and red bell peppers, or in a tomato puree or sauce.
These delicious snacks are also called pinchos in the northern areas of Spain. “Pinchos” derives from the toothpick (called “pincho” in Spanish) that holds all the ingredients together on top of a lightly toasted slice of bread. The toothpicks also help keep track of the number of tapas consumed per customer.
Some common Spanish tapas are as follows:
- Banderillas or pinchos de encurtidos
- Chorizo al vino (Chorizo slow-cooked in red wine)
- Gambas (sauteed prawns)
- Tortilla de patatas (Spanish omelette)
Varieties around the world include:
- Philippines – Known locally as pica-pica (finger food) or pulutan (meaning “to pick up”) in Tagalog
- Argentina and Uruguay – Picada, servings of cold dishes such as olives, ham, cheese, bologna, etc.
- Brazil – Tira-gostos, side dishes with more rare and traditional varieties, that accompany beer and other alcoholic drinks
- Italy – Cicchetti, normally eaten for lunch or in the late afternoon as a snack
- Korea – Anju, a Korean term for food served with alcohol
Tapas are conveniently easy to make
There is a diverse range of recipes, ingredients and cooking techniques across multiple countries around the world. You can even make your very own healthy version paired with one of our delicious hummus recipes on our website. Vamos a cocinar! Cheers!