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?


Drankes Tabanco
3 Windmill St,
London W1T 2HY


62 Goodge Street,
London W1T 4NE


27 D’Arblay
St London W1F 8EP


Brindisa Soho
46 Broadwick St,
London W1F 7AF


192 Acre lane
London SW2 5UL


Rosita & The Sherry Bar
124 Northcote Road
London SW11 6QU


Seen this week

Categories MusicPosted on

Prep release new single and play Islington Assembly Hall this Sunday

Well, if this isn’t the sound of the summer, SEEN doesn’t know what is – PREP have aired the new video for ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’, the first single to arrive from their forthcoming EP ‘Cold Fire’, due out in April 2018. Directed by Tuixen Benet (also behind the choreography for Tame Impala’s ‘The Less …

Categories Food&DrinkPosted on

Enjoy the Feast of St. Patrick with with a Midleton Very Rare Champagne Cocktail at Corrigan’s of Mayfair

Londoners will know how enthusiastically the city enjoys St. Patrick’s Day. For a different and very luxurious experience of this auspicious day, you might want to try a trip to one of (Irishman born and bred), Richard Corrigan’s restaurants, particularly Corrigan’s Mayfair who will be hosting a full-day celebration for St. Patrick’s Day with Irish …

Categories ArtPosted on

Art on a Postcard Presents their Secret Auction at The Other Art Fair

Regular readers of SEEN will know that we just love the charitable initiatives set up by Art on a Postcard. They bring art lovers (and it must be said, auction-lovers) together for the support of the Hepatitis C Trust, which is dedicated to raising awareness, ending discrimination and being a hub for information and representation …

Categories MusicPosted on

Unflinching: Jenny Wilson releases Lo’ Hi’

SEEN is fascinated by the discomfiting yet necessary vision of Jenny Wilson who has released a new single LO’ HI’, the latest track to emerge from her forthcoming album 
‘EXORCISM’, due for UK release on April 20, 2018 via Gold Medal Recordings. Having previously collaborated with contemporaries including Robyn and The Knife (to whose Rabid …

Categories ArchitecturePosted on

László Moholy-Nagy at The Isokon Gallery

The Isokon building in Hampstead has been home to many creative people: Agatha Christie, Nicholas Monsarrat, Adrian Stokes and, of course, leading lights in the Bauhaus movement, three of whom, Marcel Breuer, Walter Gropius and László Moholy-Nagy are to be honoured with a Blue Plaque, courtesy of English heritage. There is no better time to …

Categories Food&DrinkPosted on

Asian Cuisine and South American Fire at Avenue

Never mind the snow, SEEN doesn’t let severe weather warnings come between her and the discovery of a new dining concept. Thus it was that I minced carefully down to the old-school London environs of St James, yet another of those areas in the capital that shows us another side of the city. St James …

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

  1. Pingback: SEEN

Comments are closed.