Original article published at TasteAtlas.
Popularly known as Spain’s greatest food invention, these small finger foods are usually accompanied by a few drinks at lunchtime or in the early evening, led by the philosophy “eat when you drink, drink when you eat.” The name originates from the Spanish verb tapar, which means to cover, and the dish stems from the region of Andalusia where drinkers would cover their glasses with slices of bread or meat to keep out the dust and flies.
Today, the popularity of tapas has brought them across the borders of Spain, and tapas bars can now be found in nearly every developed country. Classic tapas were all about shellfish, originally consisting of a few olives, mussels, or anchovies served on a tiny plate.
Today, however there is no end to the variety in modern tapas, which can be assembled from almost any type of ingredient served in small portions, with virtually no rules as to what goes with what. In southern Spain, tapas include shellfish, squid, eggs, shrimp, mixed breaded seafood, and fried fish marinated in saffron.
Tapas in the north often consist of béchamel-based croquettes and battered prawns, while Madrid loves tripe, anchovies cured in vinegar, and ham tapas. Other common varieties include olives, meatballs, stuffed mussels, green peppers, cured cheeses, and thinly sliced salted cod.
Regardless of the variety, tapas are a staple in Spain, amazing bar food worldwide, a way of eating, and a way of living.
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