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.
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? 😀
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’.
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.
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 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.
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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