It’s no secret I love to eat. Our grand adventure involves a lot of food. Travel is a conduit to cuisines of the world. And I couldn’t love that more.
I’ve been asked often what my favorite cuisine is. It’s a tough question. I love the comfort noodles of Asia, the rich stews and meats of the Balkans, the fresh seafood of the Mediterranean. I adore any
cuisine made with the freshest local produce. And I am also endlessly fascinated with the culture and history behind regional cuisine; pierogi of Poland; khao soi of northern Thailand; peka of Croatia, shopska salad of Bulgaria, tagine of Morocco. These foods are both storyteller and palate dancer.
What could be more fabulous?
We’ve been in Spain now for more than a month. Last year we spent more than two months in Spain. I have learned to enjoy what is really a simple cuisine here in this country – locally sourced, simply prepared and not overly seasoned. Although the many regions of Spain have their individual specialties, the focus of the overall cuisine of Spain is fresh and seasonal.
My only complaint about Spain is how late they eat their meals. Breakfast is barely a meal – just coffee and a croissant, maybe a tortilla (here in Spain ‘tortilla’ is an egg and potato dish, aka Spanish omelet) around 10am. Lunch isn’t until 2:00pm and dinner rarely gets started before 9pm. For this American, that is well past my bedtime.
One of the reasons Spain eats so late is because they are in a crazy backwards timezone. Ever since Franco wanted Spain in the same timezone as Germany, Spaniards have lived with a VERY late sunrise and a VERY late sunset. So, they have adjusted their eating habits to accommodate. Unfortunately my internal clock is not so easily adjusted.
So the answer for me, when in Spain, is to live on tapas – the luscious
little dishes served all day long. I have become a fan of tapas for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Tapa Life
We have enjoyed my favorite tapas of Spain in Madrid, Santiago,Leon and Barcelona. But Sevilla loves its tapas bars (there are no tapas restaurants only bars – tapas are always served with alcohol) and the abundance of options is both fun and a bit overwhelming. In fact many will argue Sevilla is the birthplace of the tapa. We studied up a bit on where to go, what to eat and some history, then we set out on our own little “tapear”, the Spanish word for tapas hopping. Time to find my favorite tapas of Spain.
As we set out on our excursion we were happy to know there really wasn’t anywhere better we could be eating tapas than in Sevilla, and specifically in the historic Triana neighborhood. Myths and legends abound about tapas. One of the most
popular is King Alfonso the 10th, The Wise King of Spain, had once been stricken with a serious illness which only allowed him to take in small portions of food with small amounts of wine. After recovering from his illness, the king issued a decree that no wine should be served at inns unless it was served with food. (credit A Brief History of Tapas, Pita Jungle).
My Favorite Spanish Tapas
We did not have the opportunity to try every kind of tapa Sevilla is famous for, but we indulged in many and here is a list of some of our favorites both from our tour of Triana and our time throughout Spain (see photos and captions of
several throughout this blog); croqueta (very popular bite size fried cheesy nuggets often with jamon but we enjoyed it with duck as well as mint), montadito (tiny bite size jamon and pork sandwich), solomillo al whiskey (pork in whisky sauce), los pajaritos (tiny fried quail), patata (fresh potato chip), tortilla bites (egg and potato omelette), tortillita de camarones (fried shrimp pancake), espinacas con garbanzos (spinach and garbanzo beans), salmorejo (cold tomato soup), stuffed olives, thin sliced jamon iberico de bellota (acorn fed Iberian ham), pancetta frita (fried pork belly), grilled shrimp, boiled shrimp, sardinas ala parilla (grilled sardines), mussels, pulpo (octopus), razor clams, fried calamari, boquerones (anchovies) on toast, sausages and rabo de toros (bull’s tail). And those are just the ones I can remember.
Simple, Cheap & Delicious
It’s a wonderful way to eat. But the great thing is, even if you are only stopping for a glass of wine with a friend, the bar will always set something to nibble in front of you (because the King said so). It will
probably be a plate of olives, perhaps nuts or sometimes bread with ham and cheese or tortilla. It’s said that the original tapas were probably bread with jamon, which was used to cover your drink (the word tapa means ‘cover’).
Despite the origin of the word, it now describes a cuisine unto its own. Though southern Spain and particularly Andalusia claim it, the popularity of tapas has spread, particularly to South and Central America, Mexico and the United States.
The day of our tapear we ate and drank (both beer and wine) for several hours at six locations. And our total spending for the afternoon? Less
We leave Sevilla and head next to Malaga – about 205 km south, on the Mediterranean. We expect to continue our tapas exploration and enjoy
a bounty of fresh goodness from the sea. Fabuloso and delicioso!
Malaga here we come!