Spanish tapas are a part of lifestyle and culture in Spain. Everywhere you go in Spain you will find bars and restaurants serving tapas: Small delicious plates of hot or cold food...
Tapas is essentially a style of eating rather than a form of cooking. To look for tapas recipes is useless: Anything in the world can be a tapa. From a few slices of ham to some spoons of stewed beans or even a small serving of paella. But there are two kinds of tapas: The free little tapa that many bars serves free when you order a drink and the tapa you order yourself. It is common to keep the variety of tapas visible in the bars so you just can point at the one you would like to try.
In the north of Spain the typical appetizers are called pintxo (pincho) and it is also a kind of tapa. A pintxho is usually slice of bread with a lot of food on the top and a toothpick or skewer to keep it all together. The toothpicks and skewers are also used to count the number of pintxos that has been eaten when it comes to paying.
Where Spanish tapas are served you can nearly always also order bigger portions: 1/2 ración or una ración. That is 1/2 portion or a full portion. The word tapa (lid) comes from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover”.
Almost every Spanish bar and most restaurants also have tapas. But the difference in price and quality may be large. Would you like to try these small typical Spanish appetizers, avoid the tourist restaurants and look for Spanish bars where will you find the best tapas and the best prices.
Examples of popular tapas: Aceitunas - olives, albóndigas - meatballs, almejas - clams, boquerones - anchovies, boquerones en vinagre - crude anchovies in vinegar, calamares fritos - fried squid, caracoles - snails, champiñones - mushrooms, chorizo - strong smoked sausage, ensaladilla rusa - creamy salad of boiled vegetables with mayonnaise, gambas - shrimp, jamón - ham, magro en salsa - pork in sauce