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¡Vamos a Tapear! – 10 Popular Spanish Tapas

The word tapa in Spanish comes from the verb tapar, meaning to cover. While there are many different origin stories of this well-known Spanish dining experience, one of the most commonly told stories of this tradition comes from Andalusiano tavern patrons using small pieces of bread or ham to cover their glasses of sherry between sips, to prevent flies from invading their favorite drink. As bar owners began to notice this trend, they started creating various small snacks to accompany sherry and many of the other drinks they served, and thus the tradition of tapas was born. Nowadays, as tapa cuisine has become more refined and influential due to its widespread popularity, Spaniards will tapear with their friends go out to a number of bars over the course of the night, ordering drinks and several plates of these tempting tapas –as a way to enjoy each other´s company and sample all that Spanish cuisine has to offer. But with so many different tapas to choose from, the only question is, how do you choose what to eat? While any tapa under the Spanish sol will undoubtedly be delicious and unforgettable, here are 10 of the some of the most popular Spanish tapas that have made their way into kitchens around the world:

Paella

Cooked over an open fire atop a blaze of orange and pine branches and pine cones to create an earthy smoke that adds a homey, rustic taste, this traditional Valenciano rice dish is paella_valenciana_hecha-a-lena-sagunto-valencia-morvedre-estivella-torres-torresknown around the world for its heavenly flavor. With improvements made to the Roman irrigation system under Moorish rule in Spain, rice production on the Mediterranean coast skyrocketed. As a result, Valencianos started crafting large casseroles of rice, meats, and spices for feasts and family gatherings. Not to be confused with other delicious rice dishes found in Spain, Valenciano paella is made only with oil, chicken, rabbit, tomato, “ferraura,” “garrafó,” rice, saffron, and salt. Otherwise, it´s just not a paella. (Photo: www.taringa.net)

Chorizo a la Sidra – Cider Smoked Chorizo

9475800If you enjoy Spain´s spicy chorizo sausage, you will also enjoy this dish of cider smoked and cured sausages. Originally a part of Austuriano cuisine, these mouthwatering sausages are a common tapa in Spain, usually accompanied by beer, wine, or a crisp cider, of course! (Photo: cocina.facilisimo.com)

Sepia a la Plancha – Grilled Cuttlefish

Or, if it´s seafood you prefer, this tasty delicacy has a strong connection to the seaam_49529_6329516_43028, but you can find it just about anywhere in Spain. With some of the best seafood anywhere in the world, how could you pass on trying this grilled delight – especially smothered in aioli or a simple sauce of parsley, oil, and garlic. (Photo: cocina.facilisimo.com)

Gambas al Ajillo – Garlic Prawns

Prepared in a clay pot filled to the brim with a flavorful mixture of olive oil, garlic, and img_gambas_al_ajillo_con_limon_12937_600parsley, these succulent shrimp have made a place for themselves in Spanish cuisine, most commonly in the central and southern regions. Now, due to their popularity and rich flavor, you can find them in almost any bar in Spain, get ém while their hot! (Photo: visakuotsuho.blogspot.com)

Tortilla de Patatas – Spanish Omelet

One of the most common dishes and specialties throughout the region of Spain is the tortilla de patatas or Spanish omelet. With a long history of the dish dating back all the way to the 1800s, its satisfying taste and ease to20-Feb-Tortilla prepare has made the tortilla a staple in Spanish homes, restaurants and bars. Baked with a balanced mixture of eggs, potatoes, and sometimes onions and other vegetables, this dish is a classic on any tapas menu. (Photo: smittenkitchen.com)

Patatas Alioli – Aioli Potatoes

urlAnother common potato dish in Spain, and a typical bar snack, these brine cooked, peeled, and chilled potatoes are the perfect accompaniment to any Spanish meal. Slathered in a luscious parsley aioli sauce, you can´t help but devour the whole plate!  (Photo:cocinafacildehoy.blogspot.com)

Pan Tumaca – Bread with a Tomato Paste

A dish inspired by the classic pairing of bread and olive oil, with the introduction of pan-tumacatomatoes around the 1800s, workers in Extremadura, Murcia, Barcelona and Andalucía planted tomatoes to spread on their bread to soften it. Now, accompanied by various meats, cheeses, and spices, pan tumaca is a staple tapa in Spain. (Photo: www.paellasandtapas.com)

Albondigas Con Tomate – Meatballs with Tomato

Another traditional dish using tomatos is this savory meatball dish. Even though the albondigas-tomate4Italians also lay claim to this delicious dish, it has found its way into the hearts and homes of the Spanish people. Made with any kind of meat you could want, in any size, and in a delectable homemade tomato sauce, you can´t resist this popular snack. (Photo: mamayasecocinar.com)

Gazpacho

Continuing with the tomato trend is this well known bowlgazpacho of Spanish summertime flavors. This chilled soup is the queen of cuisine during the sweltering Spanish summers, made from a tantalizing concoction of tomato, olive oil, vinegar, cucumber, pepper, onions and garlic, this Andalusiano classic will surely refresh you after a hot day exploring Spain. (Photo: www.grupoyandiola.com)

Aceitunas – Olives

aceitunas_caloriasAnd last but not least, one of Spain´s pride and joys – the olive! Whether they be in their original round and satisfyingly crisp right-off-the-branch perfection, or crafted into a smooth and flavorful olive oil, with more than 18 different varieties of olive, you can bet the Spanish know their stuff. When it comes to one of their most popular bar tapas, its guaranteed you´ll take down plate after plate of these pleasant poppers! (Photo: www.gastronomiaycia.com)

After a long day exploring the boundless beauty of Spain– maybe on one of our exciting and exquisite cycling tours – you´ll need to refuel your body and mind to prepare for more adventures to come! While in Spain, do as the Spanish do – order up some or all of these tasty tapas and savor the flavors of Spain.

Assisted by: foodtimeline.org, Cocina Tradicional Catalana by Josep Llandonosa i Giro, In Tapas, the Little Dishes of Spain by P. Caso and the lovely people of Spain

Tapas list compiled by: directoapaladar.com

*Photo credit to the respective photographers. Front page photo: www.barcelonaconnect.com

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