The tapa tradition is a vital part of Spanish culture, not only for the appetizing food but for the ritual of friendship and conversation that goes along with eating tapas.
The word “tapa” means cover or lid in Spanish, and many say it was used to refer to the old habit of placing a slice of bread or a piece of ham on top of one's wine glass to keep out the flies.
Tapas can range from cheese, olives, dips canapés, traditional hams and mussels on cocktail sticks, to carefully stuffed anchovy olives or octopus. Toast rubbed with garlic, topped with tuna and roasted peppers and dripping with olive oil is a more elaborate affair. Tapas can be a delightful snack but ordering enough tapas will make a substantial meal in itself.
You don’t have to go to Spain to enjoy Tapas,Tapas Bars are popping up in cities all over the US and the UK. When you head out with your friends to enjoy the tapa tradition, don’t forget to wash them down with a glass of Sangria. Sangria is served in most tapas bars. This red wine and fruit drink is a wonderful accompaniment to the tapas and bring that added flavor of Spain to your taste buds.
Tapas are still given free in some parts of Spain, Jaen province in Andalucia being one of them and the general rule is that you are given a dish or plate then the tapas is free, but if you are asked if you would like a tapas or racion then you will be charged for it.
In some places locals make a round of bars and eat tapas all evening instead of a main meal.
To read more about Spanish gastronomy or Andalucia visit the link below.