Tapas in Tenerife

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Tapas is a small portion of food usually served with a drink in bars all over Spain. The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover.” Originally a tapas was a slice of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. The tapas was used to prevent fruit flies from flying into the sweet sherry. If meat was used to cover the sherry it was usually ham or chorizo, which are both salty and help to create a thirst. Bar and restaurant owners then began creating a variety of different snacks to serve with their sherry, thus increasing their sales. The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry.

There is a story thatthe tapas tradition began when Castile's king, Alfonso X of Castile or Alfonso the Wise, recuperated from an illness by drinking glasses of wine along with small snacks between meals. After regaining his health, the king ordered that taverns were only to serve wine to customers accompanied by a small snack or tapa. This story cannot be substantiated so take it or leave it.

Another good story says that the name originated sometime around the 16th century when tavern owners from Castilla-La Mancha discovered that the strong taste and smell of mature cheese helped to disguise bad wine, thus "covering" it, and started offering free cheese when serving cheap wine. Nowadays it can be a tiny dish of olives, nuts, salty dried peas or beans or other tit bits.

Tapas in a Tenerife bars will usually be 6 to 8 different kinds of tapas in warming trays with glass covers over the food. The most common tapas in Tenerife are Pulpo, Octopus in a vinaigrette sauce with green peppers and onions. Meatballs, speaks for itself. Boquerones, small white fish served in oil, Salpicon de Atun, Tuna with onions and peppers in vinaigrette. Enslada Rusa, Russian Salad, diced potatoes, peas, peppers and carrots in mayonnaise. Tortilla, potato omelet. Carne con papas, a meat and potato stew. All usually served with a piece of bread roll. These are more than just bite sized snacks and con be bought as a ‘racion’, (portion) or medio racion.

Tapas restaurants are great fun for a group of friends, a large selection of dishes are ordered by all the group and then the waiter brings them to the centre of the table and everyone takes a little of whatever takes their fancy. Popular dishes can be re ordered and the food keeps coming till everyone cries enough.