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    THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

    Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

    This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

TIP OF THE DAY: Entertain With Tapas


Entertain with tapas: Start with a good
cookbook. Photo courtesy Knopf.

 

Is there a tapas bar in your town? About 20 years ago, this style of eating from Spain—which consists of grazing on several smaller plates of food instead of an appetizer and a main course (like dim sum)—began to take hold in parts of the U.S.

You can serve a multicourse dinner of small tapas plates. It’s the opposite of our recent tip on buffets, but is just as much fun.

Spain is full of tapas bars, which feature a wide variety of hot and cold appetizers and snacks. From foods as basic as a bowl of mixed olives and a plate of cheese to fried baby squid, what was originally a menu of Spanish bar foods evolved into an entire meal.

Mixed seafood; ragouts of meat, sausages and beans; colorful salads; tortillas (Spanish omelettes) with ham and peppers; banderillas, or Spanish skewers; and empanadas, savory filled pastries, are just a few items found at a typical tapas bar.

 

But tapas aren’t limited to Spanish specialties. They can be Asian- or Greek-inspired, or gourmet dishes with foie gras and escargots. Goat cheese and arugula join Spanish Manchego cheese and olives. Pretty much any food you like can be served tapas style: a small portion on a small plate.

Tapas are an exciting eating experience for people who like a variety of foods, but don’t want the temptation of a buffet meal.

TAPAS COOKBOOKS
To get started, peruse a tapas cookbook:

  • Classic: Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain, by Penelope Casas
  • Modern: Tapas: A Taste Of Spain In America, by José Andrés and Richard Wolffe
  • Mediterranean: From Tapas to Meze: Small Plates from the Mediterranean, by Joanne Weir
  • Asian: Asian Tapas: Small Bites, Big Flavors, by Christophe Megel and Anton Kilayko
  •  
    TAPAS: THE NAME

    The word “tapas” comes from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover.” Why a “cover”?

    According to the leading interpretation, a piece of bread would often be placed on top of a drink as a cover, to protect it from fruit flies. At some point the bread was covered with chorizo, ham or other food. Soon, drinkers would order a glass of sherry or wine specifically “with a cover.”

      





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