“La Tapa” has to be consumed between main meals and is considered to fill the gap between
main meals. It is assumed that the tapa originated with Spanish king Alfonso the 10th, the Wise. He was ill and was advised
to take small snacks between meals with some wine. Once recovered from the disease, the wise king ordered that all the inns
had to provide something to eat when serving wine. This was to avoid problems caused by people drinking too much without anything
in their stomach.
Another version of the Tapas history is that farmers and workers needed to take in small amounts of
food during their working time so they could hold out until the main meal. The main meal contained so much fat that a siesta
was called for to digest it. Tapas were consumed with wine in the winter to warm up the body and in summer, particularly in
the south, with “gazpacho” for refreshment.
Coming back to the wise king, apparently“Botillerias” and “tabernas” popped
up all around Spain following the advice of the king. These establishments served a glass or jar of wine covered with a slice
of smoked ham or cheese both to avoid insects falling into the wine as well as for the guests to soak up the alcohol with
a snack. This is the most widely believed origin of “la tapa” and the tradition spread all over Spain and abroad.
Tapas recipes vary according to the tastes and gastronomic traditions of each region. However, olives form a large part in
tapas, as well as all kinds of cold cuts, sausages, sliced cheese or cured ham. Fried tapas are often served in a variety
of sauces. The art of eating tapas now often replaces the main meal if the quantity consumed is enough to satisfy the appetite.
Eating tapas is after all a sociable habit with many people grouping around the bar talking and having a good time.
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