Categories Food&DrinkPosted on

Going Out for Tapas… a Way of Life?

Going for tapas is not only about eating something... it is no longer a slice of cured ham with a glass of wine, but more about haute cuisine, tapas routes, a new way of understanding cuisine and social relations. So... Vamos de tapas?

If you search the internet for the origin of tapas you’ll find a huge variety of different explanations: economic, anthropologic, historic… Some attribute their origin to important Spanish monarchs, such as Alfonso X the Wise, or the Catholic Monarchs… all very mediaeval and royalist!

However, if we put these questionable royal origins aside, we can trace the custom of serving a small plate of food with wine back to the 16th century. Although in those times they weren’t called tapas. Quevedo, in his novel ‘The Spanish Sharper’ calls them avisillos, Cervantes, in ‘Don Quixote’ used the term llamativos, both meaning provocative, implying that they provoked thirst. It wasn’t until after the 1930s that the first written reference to tapas was made.

If we look at its etymology, a tapa refers to tapadora, something that covers something else. It seems therefore that the origin of tapas stems from the food that was used to cover the glass of wine so that nothing could fall into it. References can also be found from the 16th century, in the classic ‘Lazarillo de Tormes’, which on several occasions tells how the glass was tapado (covered), by food.

But others defend the argument that the custom of covering the glass with a salty piece of food – cured ham, chorizo, cheese – rather than stopping things from falling into the drink, was actually to make people more thirsty. Others argue that it was to compensate for the effects of alcohol, or the heat that labourers had to withstand, that prevented them from eating too much… It is likely that there is no single origin, and that all of these different opinions aren’t contradictory but complementary.

However, if we compare tapas with other traditional starters, beyond the different culinary or food traditions, we are looking at the same product: small portions of food, accompanied by an alcoholic drink.

So, what’s the difference? It’s not just the flavours, it’s the context! Other traditional dishes could be considered starters to a main meal. Tapas on the other hand aren’t about sitting down and remaining seated. Eating tapas is about going for tapas: from bar to bar… meeting people, and discovering places.

Tapas became really popular in Spain after the 1960s; times of change, when bars stopped being taverns frequented solely by men, to become meeting places, somewhere to socialise, the ‘internet’ of that era, and a new way of life.

Going for tapas is not only about eating something… it is no longer a slice of cured ham with a glass of wine, but more about haute cuisine, tapas routes, a new way of understanding cuisine and social relations. So… Vamos de tapas?

drakes1

Drankes Tabanco
3 Windmill St,
London W1T 2HY
www.drakestabanco.com

barrica1

Barrica
62 Goodge Street,
London W1T 4NE
www.barrica.co.uk

copita1

Copita
27 D’Arblay
St London W1F 8EP
www.copita.co.uk

brindisasoho1

Brindisa Soho
46 Broadwick St,
London W1F 7AF
www.brindisa.com

boqueria2

Boqueria
192 Acre lane
London SW2 5UL
www.boqueriatapas.com

rosita1

Rosita & The Sherry Bar
124 Northcote Road
London SW11 6QU
www.rositasherry.net

 

Seen this week

Categories ArtPosted on

House of Vans London X Studio PSK: Let There be Light

One of SEEN’s favourite venues is House of Vans in Waterloo, the skate park and cultural space bar none. We hear that until 17th December 2017 House of Vans London has partnered with Studio PSK, award-winning London-based design and creative studio, to transform Tunnel 1 into a shifting, multicoloured lighting installation open to the public.

Categories Food&DrinkPosted on

aqua kyoto: A Christmas Alternative

If the thought of Christmas with its attendant indulgences makes you long for the cuisines of other countries, then have a look at the winter menus on offer from aqua kyoto. A feast for the eyes as well as the stomach they have a lunch menu offering – essentially elevated bento boxes, which are as …

Categories DesignPosted on

Dinny Hall: A Shining Star

SEEN had the privilege recently, of hearing iconic jeweller Dinny Hall speak about her life and career in jewellery and design. She started off in the seventies when jewellery didn’t have the profile it has now, so in that sense she was very much a pioneer. She hung out with the cool musicians of the …

3 thoughts on “Going Out for Tapas… a Way of Life?”

  1. Pingback: SEEN

Comments are closed.