A while back we went somewhere east of Barcelona, in Catalunya, to check out the wineries that were opening their doors to the public for a weekend. After visiting an amazing one (Bodega Torres, that not only makes great wine but also is environmentally friendly) we decided to have a snack. Technically an “aperitivo”, or “tapas” here in Spain.
Did you know that tapas were originally a measure ordered by the King (at the time Felipe III) to stop the poor being drunk all the time? Apparently way way back the farmers and sailors and soldiers and workers were so poor that they often had to make a choice between food and drink for lunch, and would always choose drink. So Felipe decided that enough was enough – he didn’t ban drinking but he ordered the bars to serve a small something to eat with every drink they sold, so as to avoid complete inebriation.
The legend goes on to say that the name tapa, that means “cover” or “lid”, was given to this “snack” quite some time later, when Alfonso XIII stopped in Cadiz to have a glass of wine. It was so windy that day that the bartender, not wanting to get sand in the King’s drink, covered it with a slice of ham. The King was quite impressed and when he ordered another, he asked for a “glass of wine with the cover”. So says the legend.