The origin of tapas: our students of Spanish ask where they come from

02 April, 2011

Every Friday, students from our Spanish school in Bilbao go for a tapas tour around Bilbao. We regularly meet in school at 7pm and head towards the Casco Viejo, or old town, where we enjoy a few tapas, or pintxos, washed down with a few drinks. It is around this time that our students start to ask: where do tapas come from?

The origin of tapas.

Tapas have become almost a sign of Spanish identity. It is thanks to this tradition that some bars offer a small portion of food with every drink bought, completely free of charge! It´s not as common in the north, but we still always have the option of buying high-quality pintxos for great prices, so we cannot complain.

But where did this tradition begin?

Various legends exist regarding the origin of tapas, but by far one of the most popular is the story that, during the reign of the Catholic Kings, pub landlords were required to serve a glass of wine or a pint of beer with a lid. This lid was a plate containing some kind of cold food, such as ham, cheese, or anything that the landlord had to hand. The clients had to finish the food to be able to remove the plate and therefore drink the wine or beer. With this method, it was hoped that all road accidents would be avoided because everyone had at least eaten something before leaving the pubs, so they would be as sober as possible. It’s very strange…do you not think?

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  1. mariana2012-08-27 ,

    What can I say, the best tapas in Spain, nice to see all the variety and colors. Missing tapas!!

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