You can get Tapas in the Hondon area, but it’s not widely available or of great variety... least not in the league of Granada and the Andalucia region in general. A new Spanish run Tapas Bar has just opened calls “El Charro” in the Frailes Plaza (see Facebook El Charro)
Tapas, those delicious little snacks you can get in any bar in Spain, have recently been making quite a splash in the United States. In the past 3 years, I have seen 4 tapas bars pop up in my neighbourhood alone. And people are crazy about them! The thing is, other than serving tiny bits of expensive food and over-priced drinks, these trendy American tapas bars have almost nothing in common with your traditional Spanish tapas bar.
In many places in Spain, dinner is not served until 9 or 10 o’clock at night. So many people like to “tapear” or go out and eat tapas at a few different bars to meet up with friends, discuss the day, and in general just relax in a fun social atmosphere. In a lot of the major cities and in most parts of Adalucía, when you order a drink, often you get a tapa for free. Or sometimes it is the other way around; if you order a tapa, you get a free drink.
Now, how this tradition came about is debated among a few popular theories. First, it is important to know what “la tapa” means. Literally, it means “cover” or “top,” so it is important to keep this in mind when thinking about its history.
Some say that some sneaky tavern owners from Castilla-La Mancha found that a strong smelling and tasting cheese could “cover” the flavor of cheap wine. This way, they could sell the not so great wine for a higher price by including a free piece of cheese.
Others say that when King Alfonso XII was visiting Cádiz on the south west coast, he ordered a cup of sherry, which is famous in this region. In order to protect the wine from the blowing beach sands, the waiter covered the wine glass with a slice of cured ham. King Alfonso apparently enjoyed it and asked for another glass of sherry with a “tapa” just like the first.
Less legendary is the thought that since you are most likely standing when you are out having drinks with friends, you would need to cover your drink with your plate in order to have a free hand to eat. Or that you would need to top your sherry, a very sweet wine, with bread or ham to keep the curious flies away.
Now what kind of tapa you get with your drink widely depends on the region, but the staples are olives, of which there can be many different varieties, bread with aioli, and some kind of fried seafood. It is also very common to see small slices of bread topped with Spain’s famous jamón serrano or slices of cheese. My favourite is tortilla Española, which is very similar to an omelette with pieces of fried potato and onion inside instead of cheese.
There are thousands of tapa recipes out there and I encourage you to try a few on your own. Being all the fad right now, your friends would definitely be impressed if you invited them all over for an early evening of tapas at your house. ¡Salud! and ¡Buen provecho!