Spanish Recipes - Tempting Tapas Dishes

Spain is famous for its tapas and, whichever Spanish bar you frequent, in whichever area of the country, you are sure to find them.

So, what exactly are "tapas" and where did the name come from?

Tapas are, essentially, snacks and the word literally means "cover". The name originates from the card which used to be placed on top of your drink to protect it from the flies (this can be a hot country!).

At some point in time, it became popular to place a little snack on top of this card. At first, this would just have been something simple like a few nuts and olives, or a fresh slice of crusty Spanish bread plus topping.

In those, not-so-far-gone days, the tapas were free! That is not usually the case these days, although you will occasionally be presented with a small dish of crisps or olives to go with your drink.

Nowadays, there is a wide variety of (paid) tapas, with some bars really going-to-town on them and offering highly original, magnificently presented snacks.

But, even a fairly humble bar will present you with the opportunity to enjoy a slice of tortilla (Spanish omelette), boquerones (fresh, marinated anchovies preserved in olive oil and garlic), calamares (squid), champiñones al ajillo (garlic mushrooms), jamón serrano, Manchego cheese, etc.

Are you keen on cooking? Then perhaps you would like to try out this tapas potato recipe called "Patatas Bravas". An old Spanish favorite, it is simple to prepare, using fairly basic ingrediants but, it should only be savored by the courageous as it is quite spicy! Ingrediants are for four people.

Ingrediants

750 g potatoes
4 dessertspoons olive oil
Salt and black pepper
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 dessertspoons red vinegar wine
2 teaspoons tomato purée Method

1. Peel potatoes and cut into chunks.
2. Fry in oil for 3-4 minutes until lightly colored.
3. Add salt and pepper to potatoes.
4. Cover pan, lower heat and cook for 20 minutes.
5. Sprinkle with paprika and cayenne. Increase heat.
6. Mix wine vinegar with tomato purée. Add to pan.
7. Cook a couple of minutes, constantly stirring.
8. There should be no loose liquid or oil in the pan.

Should you fancy coming to the country to try the original version, there are plenty of afternoon Tapas Tours available throughout Spain for you to enjoy!

Linda Plummer is webmistress of Top Tour of Spain providing comprehensive information on Spain for travel, food, language and living.

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