Tapas have a long history. One story is that the 13th-century Castilian king Alfonso X El Sabio (the Learned) was instructed by his doctor to eat several mini-meals a day with wine; hence, tapas. Cervantes, in his 17th-century classic Don Quijote, refers to llamativos, or ''lures''-tidbits designed to arouse hunger or thirst. However, the most commonly accepted theory is that tapas as we know them originated in Andalusia in the 19th century as small saucers set over wineglasses in taverns to keep the aroma in and the flies out. Eventually, lore has it, some savvy soul hit upon the idea that complimentary morsels of food placed upon the saucers would increase bar sales. It worked: Today, tapas are rarely free-but there are more than a thousand varieties of them, and every region, city, and bar in Spain has its own specialties, from baked scallops in Galicia to stuffed peppers in San Sebastián to Casa Bigote's cod.
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A giant soirée and movable feast to which everyone is invited, the tapeo-or tapas-bar spree-invents itself as it goes along: conversations with strangers, spontaneous introductions, the unexpected appearance of an old friend or ex-lover...Anything can happen on a tapeo, and often does. The tapeo reflects the Spanish approach to life-this itinerant tasting and tippling stems from an unabashed love of play and pleasure.
Tap into this carefree vibe by hosting your own Spanish Tapas Party! Our menu is perfect for nibbling alongside glasses of sangria or your favorite Spanish wine.
- Tortilla Española
- Patatas Bravas (Spanish Fried Potatoes)
- Razor Clams with Chiles and Garlic
- Lemon and Coriander Marinated Olives
- Pan con Tomate (Spanish-Style Toast with Tomato)
- Book Club Sangria
- Spanish Red Wine Spritzers
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This simple, classic Spanish dish can be served for breakfast, cut in cubes for tapas, or as a summer lunch with a bowl of gazpacho. A quick note: Add the potato mixture while it's hot enough to start cooking the eggs but not so hot as to soufflé them.
¾ cup Spanish olive oil
6 medium russet potatoes, peeled, quartered, and thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a 10" sauté pan. Add potatoes and onions and cook, lifting and turning, until potatoes are soft but not brown, about 20 minutes.
2. Beat eggs in a large bowl until pale yellow. Transfer sautéed potatoes and onions with a slotted spoon to beaten eggs. Reserve oil.
3. Heat 1 tbsp. reserved oil in the same pan over medium heat. Add egg and potato mixture, spreading potatoes evenly in the pan. Cook uncovered until the bottom is lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
4. Gently shake pan so tortilla doesn't stick, then slide a spatula along edges and underneath tortilla. Place a large plate over pan and quickly turn plate and pan over so tortilla falls onto plate. Add 1 tsp. reserved oil to pan, slide tortilla back in (uncooked side down), carefully tuck in sides with a fork, and continue cooking over medium heat until eggs are just set, about 3 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve at room temperature.
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About this Menu
- For more on the history of tapas, read George Semler's article The Culture of Tapas.
- For more Spanish recipes, check out this alternate menu for a Spanish-Inspired Tomato Feast »
- For an easy alternative to sangria, try one of our Spanish Red Wine Spritzers »
- Spanish cured meats make a great addition to any tapas spread, and mean less work for the chef!