Traditional Spanish Tapas in the Campus Kitchen
After a busy day of studying, many students joined me in the kitchen to prepare and enjoy Spanish Tapas.
If you think about Spanish food, for most people it won’t be long before you talk about tapas. Along with paella, it’s probably the best known part of Spanish cuisine. But what are tapas, and what are some typical, traditional examples?
Tapas are basically small plates of food. They’re essentially bar snacks served alongside beer or wine. (Unfortunately not on a Monday afternoon at 2pm) 😀
Traditionally they would have been free with each drink but times have changed.
You will still often get the odd plate in some places, particularly in Southern Spain, but it’s more likely to be olives or chips than something more elaborate, although there are a few places you’ll be pleasantly surprised. However even if you have to pay for them, it’s well worth it as you’ll normally find lots of tasty options.
Tapas make a great snack before a late dinner, as is common in Spain. Alternatively, go bar hopping and make a meal out of a range of tapas as you go. One of the best things about tapas is if there are a few of you, they’re a great way to sample a range of dishes without over-ordering and/or spending a lot.
At home, tapas are great for casual entertaining. Most are easy to make and they’re a great way to offer a range of tasty bites to suit different tastes.
‘Tapa’ means ‘lid’ in Spanish and many stories go that some bartenders started using a piece of bread as a lid to keep flies out of the glasses of beer. Over time food was added on top. and tapas were born.
Pinchos (spelled pintxos in Basque) are probably what many people think of when you talk about tapas. These are slices of bread with various different toppings.
The name comes from the Basque Country in the North East where you’ll find bars dedicated purely to pinchos. Often the bar is lined with plates of them, you get a plate and help yourself.
Each pincho has a cocktail stick in it and when you are done, the bartender counts up your sticks and charges accordingly. San Sebastian in particular is where you’ll find some incredibly creative and delicious toppings. So much so, you’ll hardly believe you’re just eating a piece of bread with stuff on it.
Cheese and Charcuterie Plates:
Despite manchego being the best known Spanish cheese, there are in fact many more that are worth trying. You’ll find both hard and soft cheeses, blue cheeses and ones made from different milks. See my Spanish cheese board for more on some classic Spanish cheeses.
Charcuterie, known in Spanish as “embutidos”, also comes in a broad range of varieties, from jamon serrano (serrano ham) and chorizo (a kind of salami with paprika) to more regional cured meats like fuet (a thin cured salami-type sausage from Catalunya/the Balearics).
It’s worth looking out for “Iberico” versions of both jamon and chorizo for something a little special, too. These are made from pork where they have fed purely on acorns and the meat has a wonderful slightly smokey flavor and is extra tender.
Cold Spanish Tapas
These can be everything from salads to cold soups like gazpacho and salmorejo, and snacks like olives and anchovies. A slice of Spanish tortilla may be included in there too.
A few favorite examples are in my no cook Spanish tapas, including pan con tomate which is a base for many simple open sandwiches (and sometimes pinchos). In Catalunya, you might have dishes like escalivada (roasted vegetables) served at room temperature to add to bread.
Many cold tapas, like potato salads and seafood, are all ready to go in dishes behind the bar to make things easier, but they are usually very fresh. At home, they’re great for a quick, light lunch and snacks.
Hot Spanish Tapas
These are the Spanish Tapas we decided to do: patatas bravas, grilled olives with feta cheese, Pinchos & pan a tomate.
There’s no greater crowd pleaser than a plate of deep-fried potatoes topped with a delicious sauce and lots of garlic 😀
All the students were involved in making these delicious dishes and we enjoyed them together.
Most Japanese students have never tried Spanish food before and they were impressed.
A big thank you to Victoria and Louis, for helping me in the kitchen and explaining what Tapas is about, to the students.
If you want to find out more about Spanish Tapas click here
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