5 Things You Thought Tapas Were and are NOT

Love tapas? So do we! But wait a minute…what ARE tapas? You know they are delicious, and you know they are Spanish. And you’re right! But there’s more to them that we bet you didn’t know! So, wonder no more. We’ve debunked 5 of the biggest misconceptions Americans have of Spanish tapas:   1.    Rumor #1: Tapas are always tiny. Have you ever been to a “Spanish” restaurant in the States, ordered a “tapa,” and received a beautifully constructed, tiny piece of edible art that you can easily devour in one bite? Well my friends, that is not always the case in Spain. The portion size of a tapa can range from a tiny plate, to a “supersize-me” plate, depending on what you choose to order. This larger plate is called a ración, and even though it might not say “tapa” on the menu…don’t worry, you’re still eating one! A ración just means a larger sized tapa, often times ordered among a big group of people to share.   2.    Rumor #2: They are expensive. You know all those chic Spanish tapas bars in the States with low lighting and high prices? Well, that is actually quite the opposite of a real, Spanish tapas bar. In fact, not only are authentic Spanish tapas cheap…sometimes they are even FREE! Yes, that’s right. Free. (Well, at least in certain regions; like Andalucía or Madrid!) Tapas are actually meant to be an affordable way to munch on something yummy as you’re drinking a caña and hanging with friends. Of course, the prices of tapas vary depending on location. However, one thing is for sure: No matter how thin your wallet is, a tapa should never be too expensive when split amongst friends.   3.    Rumor #3: They are a full, sit down meal. Refuse to eat standing up? Well, you might be SIT out of luck! Generally, tapas are devoured while standing up. Picture this: You are at a bustling Spanish tapas bar. There are no seats, only round little high-top tables. You see a group of friends leave, so you sprint over and snag it before the next group of friends does. SCORE! Or as we say in Spain, “TOMA!” You’ve hit the tapas lottery. Spanish tapas are perfect to enjoy standing up, as they are not a full meal. Rather, they are “bar snacks,” or something to pick on as you’re out on the town with your friends. As a matter of fact, tapas are often eaten before a full meal, as a warm up to the real, sit-down deal.   4.    Rumor #4: Tapas are all the same throughout Spain. Spanish tapas are Spanish tapas, right? WRONG. Each region of Spain has their own specialty. For example, the North is known for pintxos, or mini toasts loaded with delicious typical toppings. The central and southern Spain are known for its meats, like Iberian ham and chorizo. And finally, the coastal South specializes in scrumptious fish dishes. So, plan your “eat-tinerary" accordingly!   5.    It’s not what you’re eating, but how you’re eating it. While Spanish tapas are absolutely delish, the concept of tapas is actually not primarily based on the food. It’s based on the company. While the Spanish culture values its cuisine, another iconic symbol of the Spanish way of life is sharing. Sharing memories and hour-long conversations with friends and family, sharing a “salud” over a Spanish glass of wine or beer, and sharing a plate of something scrumptious for all to enjoy. After all, sharing is caring, right? Or in our case, sharing is eating ;) …So, tapas anyone?   Written by: Casie Tennin October 29, 2015

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