Monday, September 20, 2010

Spain: TAPAS

Spain is an incredible country to explore. Something rather unique about Spain is their cuisine. Some people think that Spanish food and Mexican food are the same, but they happen to be complete opposites. Spain is known as the best place in the world to eat a variety of food in a short amount of time.
In Spain people often eat what is known as "Tapas." Tapas happen to be mostly finger food that is served in small portions, much like an appetizer in the U.S., except in Spain the portions are small and always shared among a group of people.
Many travel sites are available online for anyone to plan out a trip involving an array of adventure involving Tapas. Since tapas can be eaten at anytime, and mostly anywhere, people tend to partake in that activity a lot. On some useful sites their are Spaniards that post lists of places to eat the best tapas in Spain. Tapas are also always eaten between meals. When learning about the history of tapas one can find that it goes all the way back to medieval times when farmers took breaks and usually had a piece of cheese and wine before taking a nap. The tradition of eating small bites of food throughout the day is also connected to the Spanish king Alfonso the 10th. For Spaniards taking a siesta, or a nap in the afternoon, is extremely common. Everyone goes home from 1-5, or 6pm, and eats, naps, and relaxes. In Spain people are very much about living in the moment, and enjoying time with friends and families. Most reviews of the tapas bar include the authentic lifestyle of the Spaniards, which is difficult to follow at first. The mood is very relaxed. Now, you may be wondering what kind of food actually makes a tapas. I will tell you about a very popular one called jamon y queso. This translates into ham and cheese. Now ham and cheese in Spain, is not anything like ham and cheese in the U.S. In Spain the Ham has been dried and salted for months. Ham is a delicacy. Everything about the ham is done in a certain manner. In Spain as mentioned before, the ham is dried and salted for months. They then usually slice it off a calf leg in thin slices that create flat,savory, slices of ham that exist in your mouth only for a few moments. To the right is a perfect example of what this tapas looks like.
To the American eye this meet can look raw and unappetizing at first but when eaten with a small piece of cheese, and a cracker, it can be the most delightful snack one has tasted.
Spanish cuisine is generally a blander mix of taste then most people are used to. For instance the idea of eating something "spicy" does not really exist in Spain. Spain is also known for the dish paella, which always consists of rice and vegetables but can also include fish or chicken. This dish is usually cooked in a pan that is then served and presented at the table.

Spain is a very unique country and if any person is interested in authentic foods, or learning specifically about tapas, Spain is the best destination.
[Images: Bullfight, Jamon y Queso]
[Photos: Google]

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