We are out and about with our driver and tour guide and have seen many fabulous spots so far! (See previous posts) We had expressed an interest in eating lunch in a tapas bar, and reservations were made for us at the Catalana. It’s a good thing we had reservations, because when we were dropped off, the restaurant was packed. We asked our waiter to choose dishes for us, since we had no idea what most of them were, and after asking us about likes and dislikes, this is what we got! One thing we really enjoy about traveling is eating different foods and I never miss a chance to explore the supermarkets, coffee shops, chocolate shops…….
On our visit to Barcelona we had quite a few surprises! Starting with the Tapas Bar! For those of you, who do not know what a tapas bar is……..
It is a usually a small establishment where small plates of various foods are served along with beer, wine or some kind of alcohol. The dishes are lined up on a counter and the various selections have toothpicks in them. You make your choices and place them on your plate. Your bill is tallied by how many toothpicks you have on your plate. It is meant as an appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine. It may be cold, such as mixed olives and cheese, or hot, such as chopitos; food that can be battered and fried. So don’t throw away your toothpicks!!!!!!!
So how did the tapas tradition begin? The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish/Portuguese verb tapar, “to cover or top”. Before the 19th century roads were in bad condition; traveling was slow and exhausting. Add in the fact that many people could not read or write. So inns grew up along the routes offering meals, rooms and fresh horses for travelers. The innkeepers offered guests a sample of the dishes available, rather than a menu.
The original tapas in Andalusian taverns were thin slices of bread or bread with meat, used to cover their glasses of sherry between sips. This practice was meant to prevent the fruit flies from hovering over their drinks. The meat used was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, future bartenders and restaurants created a variety of “tapas” to serve, quick and easy, and increase their alcohol sales!
We started out with jambon (ham), some cheesy stick bread and a pitcher of champagne sangria! A very good start I’d say! The dishes were very generous……..
Here it is up close and personal……
Followed by beef tournedos or beef tenderloin cooked in bacon. Yummy!
And the specialty here, that our guide said we must try, as they were simply the best……… Fries topped with runny cooked egg! I think it has to be an acquired taste, as I don’t even like my fries with ketchup. But, when in Barcelona, do as the Catalans do!
After lunch we were back with the driver and guide to visit more spots! What a day we are having! What will we see next? Stay tuned!