Tapa (dish)

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Different tapas

A tapa [ 'tapa ] ( Spanish for “lid”, “cover”) is a small appetizer that is usually served with wine in tapas bars , but also with beer . Tapas correspond to the mezedes common in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East .

In Spain, tapas are usually served in tapas bars and bodegas , where they are consumed standing up. Each tapas bar has an individual selection of different tapas. Beer, wine, sherry , vermouth or port wine are usually drunk with the tapas . Tapas in the narrower sense are free side dishes with the drink. If they have to be ordered additionally, the transition from a tapa to a ración (larger quantity) or to a pincho (Basque tapa variant that is usually more complex to prepare) is fluid.

The term “tapa” has established itself as a foreign word in many languages . In Latin America , however, it is used almost exclusively in its original meaning and is not understood as a “nibble”.


There are several legends about the origin of tapas. For example, King Alfonso X of Castile is said to have been forced to take wine and small snacks between meals during an illness; After the cure, he is said to have arranged that in future wine may only be served with a snack.

Another story traces the origin back to the custom of covering alcoholic beverages with a lid; This was initially weighted down with olives so that it wouldn't be blown away, and over time the weighting methods had become more and more inventive and artistic. Alternatively, it is said that the hosts in Spain used to put a slice of bread (tapa) on the wine glass to protect the precious drink from annoying flies. This "lid" has been further developed over the years and decorated accordingly with an olive or anchovy.

Another story traces tapas back to small snacks that field workers ate between meals to bridge the gap between main meals.

Typical tapas

Mejillones and Aceitunas
Patatas allioli
Pincho moruno
Puntillitas fritas
A selection of Spanish tapas, etc. a. with chorizo, prawns and mussels

There is a vast number of tapa recipes that differ regionally and qualitatively . Typical tapas found in Spanish restaurants are:


  • Penélope Casas: Tapas (Revised): The Little Dishes of Spain , Alfred A. Knopf, New York 2007, ISBN 978-0-307-26552-4 .

Web links

Commons : Tapas  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Duden: Large foreign dictionary: entry "Tapa".
  2. ^ Mario Günther. In addition, Hans Peter Albert, author of the cookbook "Canary Islands - Eating like on vacation", describes this story as well.
  3. YV Fadón, Martin Schenk: El mundo de las tapas. English language website about tapas. Evaluated on May 6, 2006