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What Are Tapas?

Published on

8.24.2022

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What are tapas, and where did they originate? You can enjoy this appetizer and explore many more tasty home recipes with us at Jow!

Do you ever wish you could eat several miniature plates of food instead of one large one? If you relate, you'll probably like the idea of tapas! Learning about this dish is one way to enrich your knowledge of food history.

Keep reading, and we'll share more about the purpose of tapas as well as this dish's origins. Then, we'll talk about how you can prepare tapas and other quick, tasty recipes.

What Is the Purpose of Tapas?

Tapas are essentially small plates at restaurants and bars meant to enjoy with your drink, and they're perfect for enjoying after a long day at work. This type of Spanish dish is usually served as a snack before dinner or with drinks at the bar. 

Have you ever tried to enjoy a drink outside only for flies to buzz around your beverage constantly? The word "tapas" means "to cover," or "lid," and the original purpose of meat and bread tapas was to cover your drink from flies. The contents of tapas could range from sharable finger foods to multiple small plates.

Where Did Tapas Originate?

Are you curious about the origins of tapas? While you might be able to find this dish at certain specialty restaurants in the United States, this dish is most authentic in Spain. 

As we mentioned, the original purpose of tapas was to cover drinks at the bar. Eventually, servers at the bar added food on top of these plates, and the tapas we know and love today were born.

There’s also a legend about their creation which involves royalty. The story goes that King Alfonso XIII stopped to rest in a tavern and ordered a drink but was concerned about the dirty air impacting the quality of his beverage. To avoid this, the waiter covered his glass with a piece of ham. We’re not so sure if this is true, but eating tapas has certainly stuck around either way. 

The Different Kinds of Tapas

Similar to appetizers, Spanish tapas may include a variety of food. Still, there are a few main types of tapas people tend to enjoy. 

Depending on where you visit, you may experience different varieties as well. For example, the classic tapas listed below are most common in places like Barcelona and Madrid, but up north in areas like San Sebastian, they’re called pintxos and are often served on small slices of bread. 

Keep reading to get familiar with different types. Then, we'll talk about how to make tapas and prepare quick dinners from home. 

Cold Tapas

One of the main tapas styles is cold tapas. These can range from salads to cold snacks like olives and cold soups. Cold tapas can also include potato salad and seafood. These make excellent pre-dinner snacks for your household or yourself after a long day. 

You’ll often find cold meats and cheese served as cold tapas — think manchego and jamón Iberico.

Hot Tapas

Tapas can also be sizzling hot. If you're in the mood for a warm, salty snack, hot tapas are a fantastic idea. Here is a brief list of typical tapas served hot:

Most hot tapas include meat of some kind, so you may want to remember that if maintaining a vegan or vegetarian diet is essential to you.

Cheese and Charcuterie Platters

If you've been to a party in the past decade, you've probably noticed the rise in cheese and meat platters. This glorious tapas dish, known as the charcuterie board, traditionally includes local cured meats and cheeses. That's right — you can enjoy hard and soft Spanish cheeses, including well-known manchego cheese.

If you're a fan of variety, this dish is right up your alley. Charcuterie platters often differ from bar to bar, meaning you'll probably get a unique flavor experience every time you order one.

Pintxos or Pinchos

This type of tapas is what you might picture when you imagine traditional tapas. While other kinds may include various finger foods or small plates, pintxos tapas are sliced bread topped with varying foods. The Basque Country in Northeast Spain is well-known for its bars' devotion to this style of tapas.

What Type of Foods Can be Tapas?

If you're brainstorming a meal with your household or dinner guests, you'll likely wonder what you can serve as tapas before the main course. 

When it comes to preparing tapas, nothing is off-limits. You might opt to set out a bowl of crisp fries or a platter of chicken bites with toothpicks or skewers. Although the decision of what to prepare before dinner is up to you, you can still gain some inspiration from our list of typical tapas. 

Let's check it out:

How To Make Tapas Yourself

If you're entertaining guests, tapas are an excellent option to offer your friends and family a variety of food. Making this kind of dish at home isn't difficult, either. As long as you're preparing small snacks someone can enjoy with their beverage, you're on the right track. 

More Spanish-inspired Recipes To Make at Home

You may not have a tapas bar in your area. If you're in the mood for Spanish cuisine, you don't have to drive hours to find it. By following simple recipes, you can enjoy small dishes and main courses in no time. Here are a few recipes you can prepare when you want Spanish food at home!

Spanish Chickpeas and Peppers

This simple dish can be prepared as a side dish or snack! Enjoy the combination of filling chickpeas with crunchy bell peppers in this twenty-minute meal. 

Try our Spiced Chickpeas & Pepper Bowl for yourself, and you'll see how easy it is to put together a quick meal that tastes amazing.

Classic Gazpacho

Ever tried cold soup? This Spanish dish is full of tomato decadence and refreshing veggies. Our Classic Gazpacho is ready in under ten minutes, so you can prepare this dish and try it out without waiting too long. 

Chickpea and Roasted Red Pepper Salad

Here's another tasty salad that incorporates protein-rich chickpeas with perfectly-roasted bell peppers. Our Chickpea and Roasted Pepper Salad only takes five minutes to prepare. You can spend less time over a stove and more time savoring every bite. Talk about a major win in the kitchen!

Speedy Beef Soft Tacos

Are you in the mood for flour tortillas filled with ground beef, flavorful salsa, cheese, and crème fraîche? This Speedy Beef Soft Tacos recipe is the way to go! It’s an ideal solo dinner when you need to put something together quickly, but it also makes for a crowd-pleasing spread at larger gatherings.


How To Make Dinner Parties Easier

Having friends and family over for meals can be a blast. As a host, you'll likely want to prepare memorable meals for your guests but also enjoy their company. How can you ensure you get the best of both worlds when hosting? 

Keep reading to see a few ideas that can help you make impressive meals while also getting to enjoy your loved ones. 

Get Inspired

When you're planning to cook for a group of people, it's a good idea to take note of any allergies or preferences you might know about. That way, you can narrow your options to meals that everyone can enjoy. When you want to explore recipes that work for your guests, we can help. 

At Jow, you can tell us about any known allergies or food preferences, the size of your gathering, and the appliances in your kitchen. With that information, we can suggest the best recipes for you, and you can browse until you find an idea you love.

Order Groceries Ahead of Time

Once you've selected the easy dishes you want to prepare, we'll also help start your grocery list using the ingredients needed for your meals. You can add household necessities to the list, too!

From there, you can select your preferred grocery store, and we'll order your list to the store. No more browsing the aisles and waiting in line. Groceries just got easier!

Use Easy Pick-up and Delivery

After placing the order for your groceries, you can select pick-up or delivery based on your location. It's one more factor you won't have to worry about, so you can focus on enjoying your loved ones and tasting delectable homemade meals.

Follow Manageable, Quick Recipes

Once your groceries have arrived safely at your house, the fun begins. You can pull up the recipe you based this week's shopping list on. From there, you'll notice straightforward instructions that take the stress out of cooking. You can spend less time worrying about complicated steps and more time dreaming about which dessert you'll have after your meal.

Home Cooking Can Be Simple

You shouldn't feel a wave of dread when you realize you need to meal prep for the week. You deserve filling, easy meals that taste incredible without stressing over difficult recipes. 

At Jow, we're happy to help make that possible for you. If you're ready to make groceries and home cooking more manageable with us at Jow, it's never too soon to begin.

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