The origin of the well-known traditional Spanish tapa, date back to the time of King Alfonso X (The Wise) of Castilie (XIII Century). The word "tapa" comes from the Spanish verb tapar, "to cover" and, as the legend says, this tapas tradition began with King Alfonso X of Castile.
|Painting of Alfonso X holding a glass of wine and a tapa on top.|
The reason? After he overcame from a disease, he started the recovery drinking small sips of wine with small dishes of food. After going back to his health, the king decided that any tavern would not be allowed to serve wine or beer to customers without a small snack or "tapa". Wise order if we consider that any alcoholic beverage thrown on an empty stomach could later derive on fights and more problems related to it and also that most of the population couldn´t afford a whole meal while drinking in a tavern.
The original tapas were slices of bread or meat or both together used “to cover” the glasses between sips. It was a practical prudence to avoid fruit flies from flying over the beverages and perhaps falling inside the glasses. The meat used “to cover” was normally cured ham (jamón), which activates thirst because of its salty taste. Bartenders and restaurant owners began creating a variety of jamón tapas to serve, thus increasing their alcohol sales. The tapas became with time as important as the drink they were accompanying and today it keeps on happening everyday.
By Laura Checa
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