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Tapas: What are they?


GSBravo
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It's Spanish for "appetizers served for entree prices."

Actually it's (American) English for small plates at big prices. In Spain, the prices can be exceptionally reasonable for tapas. Of course if you're eating toothpick skewer by toothpick skewer, you're going to pay far more to fill yourself up, but in general and in the non touristy bars, the smaller plates are priced in proportion to the larger ones. I don't want to accuse American purveyors of tapas as being ripoff artists, I suspect the prices can be justified by rents and overhead costs. Nevertheless, unless you can go into a nice bar and have a glass of a good fino or manzanilla for a couple of bucks and a snack for not much more, the style with which tapas serve us is not going be authentically Spanish.

Adapting authentic or traditional tapas to a party at home however, is a very useful idea. They can make a great buffet or cocktail party food. They're great hors d'oeuvres and appetizers as well for a dinner party.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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There's a place in Waltham Mass. called Solea that serves tapas, hot and cold, and some entrees, and I thought it was very good. I've only been there once but it was packed.  Its website, http://www.solearestaurant.com/

Solea is new to me. I will certainly check it out. Have you been to Dali In Somerville, MA? How do the two compare?

Jim

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Tonight we are trying a new tapas place in Chicago that's operated by one of my school's graduates. It's called 1492. I can't wait. I love tapas. I love to watch the busperson carry 50 plates on each arm. They are pros. :wacko:

Noise is music. All else is food.

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Adapting authentic or traditional tapas to a party at home however, is a very useful idea. They can make a great buffet or cocktail party food. They're great hors d'oeuvres and appetizers as well for a dinner party.

I enthusiastically agree. We've done several parties using Casas' recipes and they were great fun. Many of the traditional recipes take well to preparation well in advance, leaving plenty of time for those that require last minute cooking.

Heather Johnson

In Good Thyme

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There isn't much to add, Bux has got the point.

But let me add that going out for tapas is more than a way of eating, it is a way of socialize, yes, you eat small portions or small plates, but something that is probably lost outside Spain is to go from one bar to another having their different specialities, ie having tortilla at this one and bravas at the other... Every region has it's own specialities and every city has it's own rute of tapas.

And also let me make a difference between tapas and pinchos (Pintxos in vasque), even if both are from the same family, a pincho is something that you can eat with your hand, and of course you can have pinchos as tapas.

As a curiosity, in last month spanish royal wedding, different tapas representing every spanish region were served as apperitive for all the guests before they took their seats for the lunch.

Edited by Rogelio (log)
Rogelio Enríquez aka "Rogelio"
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There isn't much to add, Bux has got the point.

Proof enough that I stayed sober enough to get the point. Rogellio was the tour guide, or ring leader, of our foray of the Cava Baja in Madrid last month, beginning with patatas bravas at Brava, the bar that lays claim to originating the recipe.

A key point of Rogelio's post is inherent in this statement--"you can have pinchos as tapas." Tapas are not so much a kind of food, but a gestalt or way of eating.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I believe tapas are a life style although the style itself may be different in each part of Spain.

All of the independent reading I have done seems to indicate just this. Tapas aren't so much a "thing", as they are "something".

[big Bunny

Posted: Jun 3 2004, 07:50 AM

I don't believe it is fair to call American "tapas" bastardized. The idea of finger-food, mezze, appetizers, etc. is universal. What makes tapas unique is that it is the Spanish way of doing finger-food.]

Although I used the word bastardize, I didn't mean to cast the net that wide. It was more implied that the restaurant industry, American and non-American, had taken the term and were applying it indiscriminately.

I apologize for the lack of clarity.

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Adapting authentic or traditional tapas to a party at home however, is a very useful idea. They can make a great buffet or cocktail party food. They're great hors d'oeuvres and appetizers as well for a dinner party.

I enthusiastically agree. We've done several parties using Casas' recipes and they were great fun. Many of the traditional recipes take well to preparation well in advance, leaving plenty of time for those that require last minute cooking.

I whole-heartedly agree. We did this 2 weekends ago, using mostly recipes from the Casas book. We had a fantastic time and enjoyed a tremendous night of eating. :smile:

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

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ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

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the restaurant industry, American and non-American, had taken the term and were applying it indiscriminately.

Yes. "Tapas" quickly became an interpretation of an interpretation of an interpretation.

On the other hand, some places picked up the spirit of tapas without doing anything actually Spanish. "Tapas", as so aften happens, became a trendy handle for something more general.

In the U.S., almost everything becomes "more general" - not always bad but it sometimes hinders communication.

BB

Food is all about history and geography.

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There's a place in Waltham Mass. called Solea that serves tapas, hot and cold, and some entrees, and I thought it was very good. I've only been there once but it was packed.  Its website, http://www.solearestaurant.com/

Solea is new to me. I will certainly check it out. Have you been to Dali In Somerville, MA? How do the two compare?

Jim

No, I haven't been to Dali yet =( My mom just moved to Lexington which is really convenient to Waltham so we've been enjoying the restaurants there lately. I know, I know, Somerville isn't that far away either...

I'm really a big fan of the tapas idea; a big assortment of all different kinds of food at one meal. I wish more places would do that, instead of making appetizers actually meal-sized (and beyond).

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But let me add that going out for tapas is more than a way of eating, it is a way of socialize, yes, you eat small portions or small plates, but something that is probably lost outside Spain is to go from one bar to another having their different specialities, ie having tortilla at this one and bravas at the other... Every region has it's own specialities and every city has it's own rute of tapas.

Bravo!

Tapas means "to top" or "on top of". It was/is small plates with food on them to put on top of your wine glass to keep the bugs out. All the while, as you sit back with a friend, loved one, book, animal, cigarette, magazine; anything that makes for a nice time to talk or relax. Something that we could all learn from the Spanish.

The food is what ever the H#$# you want it to be. Roll a piece of american cheese up in some bologne and its a tapa.

"He could blanch anything in the fryolator and finish it in the microwave or under the salamander. Talented guy."

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