June 16 was World Tapas Day. So what did you miss? Well pour yourself a glass of bold vino and enter tapas territory with these bite-size Spanish snacks – from croquettes and Chorizo to saucy meatballs and fried custard.
History of World Tapas Day
The third Thursday of the month of June was designated as World Tapas Day by the country of its creation, Spain, in 2016. Being such a popular and famous method of serving up delicious goodies, it’s no wonder that it got its own day.
The word ‘tapas’ comes from the Spanish word ‘tapar’, which is a verb meaning ‘to cover’. The actual action of serving up small dishes was popularized before the 19th century when travelers visiting bars would often be served up small samples of food available.
There’s also a story that says that tapas was originally bread or meat which was draped over the mouths of sherry glasses in-between sips, to prevent flies from getting into the sweet beverage. Especially salty meats such as chorizo would be used to encourage customers to keep drinking.
Serrano ham (a.k.a. Cured ham) is a food obtained from the salting and air drying of the hind legs of the pig. This same product is also called “paleta” or “paletilla” when it is obtained from the front legs. Serrano ham is opposed to cooked ham, also called York ham or “sweet ham”. Serrano is called by the habit of curing ham in high places in the mountains, where low temperatures facilitate curing.
Manchego cheese is a Spanish cheese made with sheep’s milk from La Mancha and protected by a designation of origin in La Mancha. It is quite a strong cheese and has a distinct flavour and compliments the Serrano ham beautifully and they are often served together.
Calamari or calamari is a traditional dish that consists of fried squid. The best Calamari is when it is made fresh then melts in your mouth, the best places to eat this is in bars and restaurants near the beach where they get the fresh catch of the day. served hot with lemon, it makes a popular tapa dish.
Gazpacho is a cold soup with ingredients such as olive oil, bread, vinegar, water and other additives such as almonds or raw vegetables: usually tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, onions and garlic. Lovely in the hot summers and can also be served as an aperitif with a dash of Vodka.
Tortilla is a potato omelette a.k.a Spanish omelette consisting of beaten egg, set with oil in the pan with potatoes although you can also add more ingredients such as onion. It is one of the most famous and emblematic dishes of Spanish cuisine, being a very popular product that can be found in almost any bar or restaurant in Spain.
Tapas found in the Malága region
Ajoblanco – Cold Garlic Soup
Ajoblanco, translating to “white garlic“, is a chilled soup also known as white gazpacho. Made of bread, crushed almonds, garlic, water, olive oil, salt and sometimes vinegar, this savoury dish is traditionally served with grapes or slices of melon or apple in Andalucía.
Fritura Malagueña – Fried Fish Málaga Style
Fritura Malagueña, deep fried fish and seafood served with a slice of lemon. There’s nothing better than having tapas, or even a plate full, of various fried fish and seafood from anchovies to mullet to calamari. You’ll find the best fritura at chiringuito beach bars situated a long the Costa del Sol where you can order the latest catch.
Gambas al Pil-Pil – Garlic Prawns
Everyone loves Gambas al Pil-Pil, delicious garlic prawns, and you’ll rarely find a menu without them. Served in a spicy olive oil garlic sauce and seasoned with paprika, chillies, and white wine, this dish arrives to your table sizzling and hot. Don’t forget to dip your bread in the sauce, and sit back and enjoy the Spanish life.
PAN CON TOMATE
It is a traditional meal of Catalan cuisine, but its origins are Andalusian since in Jaén the bread was consumed with oil and the tomato was spread over it. The Spanish often have this as a breakfast around 10 in the morning, but it great just as a tapa anytime of the day.
Traditional Tapas you will find on the Costa Blanca
Paella is often seen as Spain’s signature dish but the glory really belongs to the Valencia region, where the best Bomba rice is grown to make this delicious meal. This eastern part of Spain has an impressive reputation for fine cuisine.
Paella comes in 101 varieties using what is available locally. By the coast it will generally include fish and shellfish such as mussels and prawns. Inland it is more likely to have rabbit, snails or chicken in the mix. Vegetarian varieties are also available. The most important thing is that it is made with Bomba rice from the Valencia region and one of the best comes from the Pego wetlands, just north of Denia.
Denia prawns are a delicacy and come with quite a hefty price tag, especially at Christmas-time when they can be as much as €200 a kilo. One of the most cost-effective ways to try them is for tapas which keeps the cost down. Because they have such a delicate, sweet flavour, they are best cooked simply. For example, they can either be quickly boiled in sea water or quickly grilled with a little rock salt. Each year, top chefs are invited to Denia for a competition to find the best, new recipe for this lovely red prawn.
Esgarrat – Cod Dish
Fish plays a central part in many dishes along the Costa Blanca coast. In more traditional restaurants you will find esgarrat on the menu which is a very colourful and healthy fish dish. It is made with grilled cod served with cooked red peppers,olives, garlic and a large dollop of olive oil. The sweetness of the peppers contrasts brilliantly with the cod. This is an easy dish to try at home as it takes just 30 minutes to prepare and cook.
Bunuelos falleros – Crispy doughnuts
Doughnuts are a delicious mid-morning or afternoon snack, particularly during fiestas when revelers and onlookers need an energy boost to keep them going all day and throughout the night. Bunuelos falleros are round doughnuts with a hole.They can be made simply with flour, yeast and sugar, although often cooked squash or pumpkin will be added to the bunuelos to make a pudding typical of the Alicante region. Another favourite is a doughnut, called churros, traditionally served with thick hot chocolate at breakfast.
So whether you are buying a property on the Costa del Sol or Costa Blanca you do not have to wait for World Tapas day to take advantage of this tasty dishes!