Sunday, January 23, 2011

Tapas on tap

For the foodies among us, Madrid’s tapas are a must-try. There is some interesting history attached to them, dating back to the 13th century. Stagecoach drivers would stop off at a tavern to take a break with a glass of wine after completing another long and often dangerous leg of their journey. After many such stops, they would get so drunk and eventually become such a menace to other travelers, that the government actually passed a law forcing them to eat something along with their drink. This snack would usually be a piece of bread and ham placed on top of their glass. These tapas (tops or lids) have now evolved into a delicious edible tradition that can be enjoyed all over the world. (Let's face it, Tapas Bars and Sushi Stops can be found most places.)

We found a great food market that called us for tapas and drinks each day. A sangria or cold beer seemed to be the perfect accompanyment, (we saved the Rioja wine for evenings). Instant tapas; tapas on tap, could I ask for anything more?!

Some Spanish food we tried:

  • Olives with a filling of red bell pepper, cheese or ham.
  • Banderillas, (or pinchos de encurtidos), a cold tapa made out of small food items pickled in vinegar and skewered together. They are also known as gildas or piparras and consist of pickled items, like olives, baby onions, baby cucumbers, chillis (guindilla) with pieces of pepper and other vegetables.

  • Calamares or rabas; rings of battered squid.

  • Chorizo spicy sausage.

  • Croquettes served as a tapa.
  • Empanadas or empanadillas large or small turnovers filled with meats and vegetables.

  • Pulpo; octopus served in small chunks in the oil in which it was cooked.

  • Tortilla; a type of omelet containing fried chunks of potatoes and some onion.

  • Jamón serrano (cured ham)

  • Paella (saffron rice)

  • Churro; fried-dough pastry-based snacks

I would like to officially thank all of the stagecoach drivers out there; your need to indulge has resulted in the birth of my favourite food. I am even considering screen printing a " I heart Tapas" t-shirt.

I managed to restrain myself as far as the sweets were concerned, (to be totally honest, I just couldn't possibly fit anything else in), but I am pretty sure that I put on a couple of kilos just seeing the desserts.

IF Interesting Fact

Gazpacho (cold tomato soup) is generally only served during the summer months, even if it remains on the menu all year long.


  1. mmm... I love tapas! I'm so excited to get over to Europe because of the amazing food! It's going to be difficult not to gain weight while we are there!!

  2. How good were the olives with ham in them. Nom NOM Nom!