My friend Angela had a birthday this weekend, and we had her over for a little celebration last night. She loves eating tapas-style, so I was only too happy to oblige. BBQ Man and I love tapas, too. In fact I think we love it too much – the last time we had tapas at a Spanish restaurant, they had to move us to a bigger table because we ordered that many dishes. Oops!

Tapas can be as simple and rustic as simply having olives, served with crusty country bread and good olive oil. Or, it can be as elaborate as having 20 or more different dishes to choose from. When I serve tapas I like to keep some Spanish flavours – some sliced, fried chorizo and some olives, served in flat little earthenware dishes. I also like to have a few hot dishes, but yesterday the weather was too warm to cook anything. I guess the great thing about tapas is that there aren’t any hard and fast rules – other than it being a selection of small, tasty dishes – so dips, cheese, vegetable crudites, some pate, do just as well. Angela’s other Grand Passion is Tex Mex, so I made guacomole and a bean-and-corn dip that was deeelicious!

        

A little background on tapast it’s a Spanish custom where hor d’ouvres are served with drinks, usually at a tapas bar, from early evening onwards. In Spain one doesn’t dine until late – perhaps around 9 or 10pm. Tapas is just the thing to fill in the gap. It’s a great way to unwind after work and catch up with friends and family. One story as to the origins of tapas has it that taverns had cups of wine prepared for their patrons, and to keep the flies away from the wine, barkeepers would place a piece of bread over the cup – hence the name ‘tapas’, which is Spanish for ‘lid’ or ‘top’. Eventually the bread evolved into more sophisticated offerings and the tradition of having something to nibble with drinks came to be. That’s just one story. You can read about other versions here http://www.arrakis.es/~jols/tapas/indexin.html and here http://www.catalanlife.com/index.cfm?uuid=354237ECDD

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