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Spanish tapas menu for entertaining

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

The history of Spanish tapas: simple and delicious international recipes

The history of Spanish tapas: simple and delicious international recipes

The term ?Tapas? has become a regularly advertised menu item in American restaurants, bars, cafes and other dining establishments. These unique appetizer-sized dishes have also become a favorite for party planners and hosts who wish to entertain with a Spanish tapas menu in order to add an international flair and global flavors to their dinner parties or social events.   

But what exactly does the word tapas mean, and where did these recipes originate? 

This dining concept first began centuries ago in Andalusia, Spain, during the reign of the Spanish king Alfonso the 10th. Spanish taverns and bars began serving wine and alcoholic drinks that were accompanied by light snacks. This helped to prevent people from ingesting alcohol on an empty stomach, and also served to sustain people’s hunger until nighttime, since typical Spanish dinners were not served until sometime between 9pm and 11pm.

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The word ?tapa? which directly translates as ?lid? or ?cover? was originally a slice of bread, accompanied by cheeses, meats, olives or other toppings, which was placed over the top of a glass of wine or sherry. These ?tapas?, which were included with the price of a drink, served the dual purpose of abating hunger, and covering the mouth of a glass in order to keep fruit flies out of a customer’s wine.

Eventually, tapas menus caught on as popular evening rituals throughout Spain. Many taverns adopted the custom of offer evening drink specials, accompanied by a variety of tapas items. Spanish gourmet food almost always includes many typical ingredients of tapas: anchovies, squid, angulas, cheese. This type of menu made it easy for customers to bar-hop, dine lightly, and socialize with friends, neighbors and acquaintances, before heading home for a traditional family meal.


If you are seeking themes, decor or a sophistacted international menu for an upcoming party or event, you will be relieved to learn how remarkably easy it really is to entertain with a Spanish tapas menu. Add some soft guitar music and serve up some sangria to complete the Spanish theme for your next gathering. To get you started, here are a few simple, traditional and delicious Spanish tapas recipes.

How to Entertain With A Spanish Tapas Menu:  Simple, Traditional, Delicious Recipes:

1.   Bread: 

Bread was a basic tapas item, and was regularly served with roasted garlic, olive oil, sliced cheeses, many varieties of olives, roasted peppers, stuffed peppers, sliced sausage soaked in cider (called chorizo) or other specialty meats and cold cuts.

2.   Seafood: 

Seafood was, and is a local specialty in Spain. Some of the most delicious and traditional seafood tapas include: Chopitos, which are battered and fried baby squid, Mariscos, which feature anchovies, sardines, squid, shrimp or mackerel stewed with olive oil in a tomato based sauce and Gambas, prawns sauteed in salsa negra (peppercorn sauce) with garlic and chilli peppers.

3.   Gazpacho:
Gazpacho is a cold tomato and vegetable cream soup that typically includes tomato, cuber, pepper, onion, garlic, basil, cilantro, paprika, olive oil and vinegar. Traditionally, gazpacho was served with bread, usually tomato-bread.

4.   Banderillas: 

Named after the spear used by Spanish bullfighters, Banderillas describe any variety of pickled food items skewered together. For example, olives, baby onions, mushrooms, baby cucumbers, chillies, pepper slices, or even anchovies. Often, other types of seafood, such as pickled cod or mackerel were added to banderillas.

5.   Morcilla Frita (Black Pudding):

Spanish morcilla frita is a very popular Spanish dish, the first sausage to be made from the freshly killed pig. Fried black pudding is typically flavored with herbs and spices such as garlic and oregano.

If you are planning to entertain with a Spanish tapas menu, be sure to pair your tapas dishes with traditional Spanish drinks and beverages such as wine, sherry, sangria, cava (Spanish champagne) or even Spanish beer, hard cider and of course, Spanish coffee.


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