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Tapas, the Free Food

Tapas, the Free Food

I am sitting at a small restaurant in Granada. In front of me is a glass of Moscatel, a local non-alcoholic drink and a plate of Tapas (or small snack). I’ve paid only for the drink, this Tapas has come free.

Tapas in spain

There is a part of Granada’s cultural heritage that no other Spanish city can match. Never mind the Alhambra, we’re talking about ‘Tapas’ here. 😀
Granada, a tapas city has something about tapas culture that makes it unique and special. Every Tapas bar in this city would serve you snacks for free if you pay your bill for any drink i.e. wine, beer, coke, shakes, lemonades or just anything. Isn’t it interesting? 😀

Tapas in spain

Anybody who knows anything about Spanish food would know the story of the tapa. It was once just that, a saucer or lid ‘tapa’, with a little something to eat, placed on top of the glass. Tapa is a Spanish term meaning ‘on Top’.

Tapas the Free Food in spain
Tapas in spain

You may want to read similar story on Yemas de Avila, the historical dessert from Avila, Spain.

The story about Tapas goes like this. Once upon a time a King of Spain was travelling around and he arrived in a bar in Granada on a very windy day. He ordered a glass of wine. Since it was windy, and the environment was dusty, the bar owner decided to cover the glass with a lid or saucer. But it didn’t look right, so he placed a nicely cooked ham on it. When it was served to the king, he asked why it is the way it is, since he had asked for just the wine!
The bar owner replied courteously, “Your Majesty, this is a Tapa… an offer from my bar to the king “. The king was extremely delighted by this gesture. He had the wine and ate the ham as well. All the people who were travelling with him liked the idea and the place. They started returning to this place asking for the tapa as offered to the king. The rest is history. After that, all the bar owners from Granada started to offer customers Tapas dishes along with the drink.
Since then, the tradition continues till date in Granada and the Tapa has become a culinary genre in its own way. The idea of an elaborate menu of nibbles which increase in quality and quantity as more drinks are ordered, has an enormous appeal.

Tapas the Free Food in spain

Usually the first serving with your first drink is small and as you order more drinks, other dishes follow. The quality and quantity increases with orders. One of the characteristic sounds of Granada is the barman’s shout to the kitchen: ‘Una primera!’ ‘Una segunda!’ ‘Una tercera!’. Also, you are never served the same dish again unless you ask for it.
Generally, Tapa can be a serving of potatoes, cheese, meat, fish, bread, crisp fried Seafood or vegetables, sherry-soaked clams, tempura aubergine etc.

Tapas the Free Food in spain

Tapas is not restricted to Granada. I had this Tapa in Zaragosa.

There is a bar in Granada for every class of person, every age and nationality, and in most of them you’ll find a healthy cross-section of humanity. The city is full of tapas bars, from the ones that are known only to locals, to the ones that are favored by the international tourist. At a time when high-class restaurants all over the world are half-empty, it is heartening to see the bars of Granada brim-full of tapas-happy punters.

Probably it has something to do with huge number of students here. After all, no-one appreciates free food more than a hard-up student.

Tapas in spain

A small water fountain to serve you free!

Now, when we are talking about food how can we leave the water behind? Spain has high quality of water from the natural springs of the mountains. In Granada, you can find several taps or small fountains to drink this water.

So, Granada is for free food and free water !! Tell me when are you heading there? 😀

In case of any travel queries related to Spain, shoot me a mail. I’ll be more than happy to help you out.

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41 thoughts on “Tapas, the Free Food”

  1. What an interesting tradition…and each item looks really inviting. I came here from your Facebook and immediately remembered an old TV ad ” Itna Khaogee toh … motee ho joagee or muhanse jaynge,,,, or something like that and the girl goes : I Don’t Care”

  2. This is FABULOUS! Just about everyone who’s seen Granada goes on and on and on about the architecture blah blah blah. When what’s REALLY important is the FOOD! This is ALWAYS the best part of any trip! Super article, I really enjoyed it!

  3. Free tapas are one of the best things about eating in Spain! I like the little backstory you’ve provided to how the tapas tradition started. I often go to similar places for drinks/appetizers in Italy, as it is very common there too!

  4. Very interesting! I didn’t know the origin of tapas (and I’m from Barcelona! but well, there are no free tapas here). The ones you got look really delicious… were these portions for only one person?

  5. So interesting! I’ve actually heard from a few people that you can travel and basically eat for free by just ordering a drink and enjoying the tapas that comes along with it – everything looks delicious too!

  6. I really love tapas! We have imported them from Spain here in Holland but not the real style, we just go out to eat tapas and order loads … I love the traditional way much better!

  7. Tapas is really a very interesting concept. Had only heard about drinks being free when you order for food. But this is the reverse. Hope this concept kicks off in India too! The story of how Tapas came about is also very interesting.

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