Tapas

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Tapas (Spanish pronunciation: [╦łtapas]) is the name of a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. They may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or warm (such as chopitos, which are battered, fried baby squid). In select bars in Spain, as well as some parts of North America and the United Kingdom, tapas has evolved into an entire, and sometimes sophisticated, cuisine. In Spain, patrons of tapas can order many different tapas and combine them to make a full meal. In some Central American countries such snacks are known as bocas.

The serving of tapas is designed to encourage conversation because people are not so focused upon eating an entire meal that is set before them.[citation needed] Also, in some countries it is customary for diners to stand and move about while eating tapas.[citation needed]

Contents

History

The word "tapas" is derived from the Spanish verb tapar, "to cover".

According to legend[citation needed], the tapas tradition began when king Alfonso X of Castile recovered from an illness by drinking wine with small dishes between meals. After regaining his health, the king ordered that taverns would not be allowed to serve wine to customers unless it was accompanied by a small snack or "tapa."

According to The Joy of Cooking, the original tapas were the slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners began creating a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales.[1] The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry.

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