Thursday, March 5, 2009

Spanish Tapas

Luísa from Portugal has asked me to tell her about the origins of the Spanish "tapas". The origins of our typical, healthy snacks -or so history has it- are related to our kings.
The most recent one -end of the XIXth century- assures that Alfonso XIII, during a journey in the southern province of Cádiz, asked for a sherry wine at a country inn. The keeper put a piece of ham over his glass, to prevent the typical wind in the area to put sand in the wine. The king, and all his followers, asked for a second round -of course, with tapa-.
This story makes some sense, since "tapa" comes from the verb "tapar" - to cover- but seems unlikely, as there are documented cases of wine served with their tapas already in the XVIIIth century.
A much earlier version -Middle Ages- has another of our kings -Alfonso X "the Wise", could it be otherwise?- as the inventor of the tapa. As he suffered from several ailments he ordered that every inn and tavern in his kingdom of Castille should serve drinks with some food, to prevent alcohol from affecting his subjects too much.

Spanish kings care!

I've take this from
La Tapa, so as to be meaningful, has to be eaten between main meals as food that allows the body to survive until lunch or dinnertime.Some authors assert that the tapa was born when, due to an illness, the Spanish king Alfonso the 10th, the Wise, had to take small bites of food with some wine between meals. Once recovered from the disease, the wise king decreed that no wine was to be served in any of the inns in the land of Castile , unless accompanied by something to eat. This was a wise precaution to counteract the adverse effects of alcohol on those people who, through lack of money to buy a nourishing meal, drank alcohol on an empty stomach.
Apart from the story of the royal disease we should consider the theory that the tapa first appeared because of the need of farmers and workers of other unions to take a small amount of food during their working time, which allowed them to carry on working until time for the main meal.This main meal, rich in fat, was so heavy to digest that a “siesta” had to be taken for a couple of hours before going back to the fields or to the workshop. Longer working hours in the morning meant an easier workload after the meal.

We have already planned a tapas dinner in April. It will be at the "Manzano Bar", the temple of tapas in Navalmoral.

Enrique (IES Augustóbriga).