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Spanish Tapas!

Tapas: the delicious little dishes of Spain, consumed with great gusto at bars and taverns before lunch and again before dinner, have been a tradition in Spain for as long as anyone can remember. While Spaniards have been enjoying hundreds of varieties of exquisite tapas, here in America we have, for the most part, been enduring endless cocktail hours of salty pretzels, peanuts, potato chips, and soggy canapes.

The tapas way of life is completely in tune with the Spanish character. To eat tapas-style is to eat by whim, free from rules and schedules. It is meant for those who wish to enjoy life to the fullest and who love to while away the time with friends.

In America, tapas bars are catching on as fun places to spend an entire evening, and tapas have brought new life to home entertaining. Tapas are as varied as the cooks who create them and in Spain range from the simplest fare, like grilled chorizo sausage, flavorful jamon serrano (cured ham), tangy Manchego cheese, and simple canapes(almost anything atop a piece of bread becomes an instant canape in Spain), to surprisingly sophisticated dishes using quail, frogs’ legs, fresh snails, caviar, and baby eels.

Just like any well-considered meal, tapas must present a variety of tastes and textures that are complimentary to one another. Choose at least something cold and marinated, a tapa in a sauce, another with bread or pastry, and one that is fried, grilled or baked at the last minute. The assertive salty flavors of most tapas make them ideal paired with almost any wine, beer, sherry, or cider for sipping and supping. We think eating tapas with a glass of wine is the ultimate food lover’s ritual for unwinding at the end of the day.

This timeless tapa, Chorizo-Filled Dates Wrapped in Bacon from Spanish cookbook author Penolope Casas has everything going for it – it’s sweet, smokey and savory, all in one bite.

“Salud” – Health!

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