Spanish Tapas: Not Your Typical Afternoon Snack

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During the hours between lunch and dinner, it is common to go searching for a snack to sustain one’s appetite for four to five hours.  Sometimes we satisfy our cravings with simple foods such as milk and cookies, fruit, or popcorn.

Albondigas (flickr.com/latasca)

In Spain, the hours between lunch and dinner are usually far longer, but the midday hunger is welcomed by several small dishes known as tapas.

Tapas are small appetizers in Spanish cuisine that can range from something as simple as aceitunas (olives with a red pepper filling) to something as distinct as chopitos (small squid, battered and fried).  Tapas serve the purpose of satisfying midday hunger and as food to enjoy while wine tasting or bar-hopping (a typical activity between work and dinner).

Last year, I made a trip to a Spanish restaurant in Fullerton, California, called Lizarran.  At Lizarran, I was able to have a unique food experience in learning that this was no typical afternoon snack.  While I was there, I sampled a few tapas, and my favorite was the Albondigas con Tomate (Spanish-style meatballs in tomato sauce).  It wasn’t the most adventurous of choices, but the Spanish-style meatballs introduced a flavor different from the typical Italian meatball.

However, I do encourage going out on a limb and trying the tapas that leave your mouth watering, or make you cringe just by the description.

The pulpo a la gallega graciously awaits your arrival.

¡Disfrute!

– Gabrielle Castillo

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2 responses »

  1. I always found it interesting that Spaniards eat several small meals throughout the day as opposed to three large meals like Americans. I also remember learning about tapas in my spanish class last semester. I want to try those spanish meatballs. Since meatballs are commonly considered a part of Italian cuisine, I wonder how meatballs would taste with Spanish spices. I would imagine that it tastes something like taco meat with the Spanish seasonings. The only question I have is if you know of anywhere in the Phoenix area where we can try these Spanish appetizers?

    • I haven’t heard of any in the Phoenix area just yet, but I did find a place that serves Asian tapas, which I had never heard of until I did some research. That could be very interesting to see if certain types of tapas are universal.

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