One of my favorite things about living in Spain were probably the tapas. Although the Mediterranean weather was gorgeous, the hard to understand Andalusian accents comical at times, history that could be found on the corner of every street in my host city of Seville, tapas were what I loved the most. Little plates of irresistible culinary goodness in my opinion.
Although the concept of tapas has caught on considerably in recent years as it has been adopted by other cuisines besides Spanish (in my city of residence there is an upscale Thai tapas restaurant), it was in Spain where it all began. The word tapas is derived from the Spanish verb “tapar” which means “to cover.” When I was in Spain I was often asked if I wanted to “ir de tapas” (go bar hopping). As dinner is served quite late there (generally between 9 and 11 PM, sometimes later depending on the household), many people often “ir de tapas” after work. They’ll essentially embark on a gastronomic crawl, going to various bars, eating a couple of tapas at each place.
A bar will usually offer around eight to twelve different kinds of tapas, almost always a variety of hot and cold ones. Although many people equate tapas to miniature meals, many are extremely simple, sometimes nothing more than cubes of manchego cheese that have been marinated in olive oil and herbs as well as nuts and olives. But they can also be more substantial, more “involved” from a cook’s perspective such as empanadillas (little pies), gambas (prawns usually cooked in a sauce), slices of tortilla española (Spanish omelette and my personal favorite), and my least favorite, chopitos (batter fried baby squid).
Image from absolutmarabella.com
Although slightly different from the more mainstay tapas bars, one of my favorite places to grab a bite to eat in Seville was Cien Montaditos, a take out place that serves nothing more than 100 little sandwiches (hence the meaning of its name when translated).
Did I mention that all the sandwiches came with papas fritas?
There were always some interesting concoctions including one with queso de Filadelfia (Philadelphia cream cheese) along with the ubiqitious jamón serrano (dry-cured Spanish ham). It was a beloved spot of mine especially since prices were very cheap, something of which is of the utmost importance for a student studying abroad.
So from time to time I like to whip up some of my own tapas complete with a pitcher of homemade sangria as well.
buñuelos-cheese puffs, similar to French choux pastry
fried black pudding rounds (the vegetarian version)
Julie is a librarian by day, die-hard travel fanatic and writer by night. When she’s not traveling, she’s either testing out a new recipe or being a foodie in Pittsburgh. If you're interested in seeing where she travels to or what she makes next, follow along via the links below!