Before we start out lets understand what Tapas is. Tapas are a wide variety of mouth-watering appetizers or snacks of the Spanish cuisine. It is not the Sanskrit word for deep meditation, though after a tummy-full of Tapas you might want to drift off into a very satisfied mental state.
Tapas can be cold or hot and of many different kinds. From the humble snack it has become sophisticated. In most instances, it is a whole meal in itself with diners combining several tapas dishes. It evolved from light snacks you nibbled on while you sipped your sherry, chatted and waited for the main meal to arrive – to the main course. Having tapas has grown into a ritual in Spain – a favourite one too.
Way back in time tapas would be a piece of meat (usually salty) like Jamón (cured ham) that would be nibbled on while sipping drinks. Bars and restaurants then became creative in their snack-making and started incorporating ingredients from around the world. The Romans brought the olive; whole almonds, citrus fruits and spices came from North Africa and the Americas delivered tomatoes, peppers, corn and potatoes. All these edible incursions have turned the tapas into gourmet must-do.
Its evolution continues with the regular use of garlic, chillies, paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, saffron, other seasonings and olive oil. The fillings often include anchovies, sardines, mackerel, squid or a huge variety of produce from the sea. These are all mixed in an infinite variety of combinations and accompanied by tomato-based sauces, with a number of types of bread including Boccadillo, the Spanish version of the baguette. It is quite usual for bars and restaurants to have over a dozen kinds of tapas sitting in warming trays to temp and cajole you into ordering them.
Now that you have a much better understanding of what makes tapas, let’s move to its consumption and the culture surrounding it, especially on the island of Lanzarote.
Al fresco dining started out (more or less) in cooler climates where a sunny day was a good reason to sit out in the garden or and have a meal. Al fresco is Italian meaning “outside” or “in the fresh air.”
The gorgeous warm and sunny Canaries weather of Lanzarote means that it is almost de rigueur for bars and local restaurants to have sit-out arrangements where dining is casual and encourages a party-like scene. All the villages in Lanzarote have numerous al fresco and so do the beaches. The bars in the larger towns place tables out on the sidewalks and pavements.
Enjoying a leisurely tapas meal at these bars is usually enhanced by fantastic blue skies, pink and orange sunsets and the magical scenery of the island. Your happy taste-buds and the location that made them so, ensure you will remember the experience(s) for years to come.