Tapas Culture: My Favorite Spanish Food

1)     Patatas Bravas. Fried pieces of potatoes served with a spicy tomato aioli sauce

Catherine Heredia

Among the many things I love from Spanish culture, tapas are one of my favorites. These small appetizers are more than just food people eat, but are a culture in of themselves and a way of life. There is even a verb in Spanish, “tapear,” that can be translated as “to eat tapas.”

There are many different legends of how tapas originated, but one that my Spanish teacher told me is that they used to be placed on top of glasses to protect them from dust or insects. This is where tapas got their name because “tapa” means lid or cover.

Eating tapas is a way people enjoy themselves and socialize with one another. People order one or two tapas at a restaurant, share them with their table, and then repeat in a different restaurant – like bar hopping, but for tapas. It used to be more common everywhere in Spain for restaurants to offer a free tapa with the purchase of a drink, but this custom now only holds in certain cities such as Granada. Check out my top three favorite tapas in the gallery above.