Published on October 28th, 2015 | by Ann Rickard0
Terrific Tapas – Barcelona
Plonk me in the middle of Barcelona (yes, please) and let me loose.
I won’t head straight for the Gaudi buildings, as much as I admire the quirky Disney-like architecture, and I won’t rush to see the Sagrada Familia…as breathtaking as the famous church is.
I’ll get to those icons later, but first…it must be tapas.
I am not alone in loving the tapas bars in Barcelona (and all over Spain too, but let’s stay in Barcelona for the purpose of this story).
You can virtually choose any street, square or alleyway in Barcelona and be guaranteed to find multiple tapas bars overflowing with happy people.
You don’t have to go looking.
You’d be hard pressed to find a miserable person in Barcelona.
Everyone seems to have the fun gene, the happiness DNA.
And why not, when a small bite of something exquisitely delicious and a glass of something fruity and chilled is just a step away no matter where you are.
Your spirits are lifted just by stepping inside a tapas bar and joining the happy buzz.
On our last visit recently (okay, showing off we’ve been to Barcelona before) it took a little while to work out the tapas bar etiquette. We’d forgotten the correct tapas procedure.
Instinct, when confronted by an array of exciting and colourful small bites all sitting invitingly on a counter just for the taking, is to dig in, go wild, be gluttonous, get messy…and hope nobody you might know will walk in to witness your greed..
“How do we do this?” my bloke and I asked each other as we watched people around us standing, holding plates of different bites, nibbling gorgeous morsels, balancing drinks.
“Dunno, let’s just take a plate,” was my answer, so I reach out and take a plate of thick baguette slices with a creamy white cheese mixture topped with a sliver of anchovy.
This brought small flutters of concern from the barman who politely informed me the proper protocol was to take just one piece off the plates on the counter, leave the rest behind for others.
“But how will you know what I’ve eaten?” I asked the barman, to which, of course, any tapas aficionado would already know, by the number of little toothpicks left on your plate.
How polite, efficient and trusting.
The idea is to walk along the counter, admire the chorizo on top of a melty cheese concoction, contemplate the waves of pink prosciutto on baguette slices, swoon at the glistening red peppers topped with tiny pancakes, yearn for the mousse with smoked salmon, reach for the crispy breaded Parma ham, go crazy for the cheese and ham croquettas, all presented beautifully with little sticks stabbed through them.
Eat your fill, have a glass of chilled dry sherry, then present your plate when you’ve finished, let the staff count the sticks, pay the bill and then head off to the next tapas bar.
There is much to love in Barcelona…but only after you are tapas satisfied.
HISTORY OF TAPAS
It is usual to stand and move about while eating tapas, hence many bars have just counters and the small bite-size serves.
History has several versions of the tapas’ beginning, most likely, that they originated as small bits of bread or meat to sit on top of a glass of sherry to keep the flies from hovering over the sweet sherry.
Now so many countries claim the tapas as their own.
The beauty of the tapas is the variety, the sharing, the interaction and enjoyment with others