Many of us, I'm sure have come across tapas; yes those Spanish morsels known as 'tapitas,' 'media-racions' or 'racions' (if you are really ravenous) which satisfy our craving for a 'bite-to-eat' whilst avoiding the main 'interruption' of a full meal.
Generally, after a few riojas or more, something is needed which satisfies the desire for sustenance, sobriety and more rioja. A range of tapas are often offered in stages, and one is generally served per drink. These tasty little eats, are often more interesting than the dinner, which generally takes place around 10pm or later for most Spaniards.
Tapas are carefully prepared fare and seem all the more delicious when you consider that, very often, greater time is taken to prepare these Mediterranean delicacies than if we were preparing a 2-hour-long paella feast for 12!
The word 'tapa' actually means 'cover' in Spanish and was typically offered free-of-charge, at bars and drinking establishments, often in the form of a plain piece of bread, to cover one's drink to avoid flies taking a swim in your wine or beer.
The Moors, who ruled much of Southern Spain for seven centuries contributed to science, literature, philosophy and art.
Selfishly, (for me) their contribution to gastronomy is the most significant.
Together with the Sephardim Jews, the Moors lived peacefully and together they were responsible for introducing a unique culinary fusion of Mediterranean flavours with typically off-shore ingredients which separated southern Spain from the rest of the Mediterranean.
Many of the tapas here in Andalucia use nuts, fruits and spices which reflect the Moorish influence.
I have many recipes for tapas and have decided to post them here; as and when I cook them, which is quite often.
Whether it's meatballs (albondigas) with fresh tomato sauce balanced with subtle spices, or simply a few boquerones en vinagre teamed with Russian Salad, or even a plate of the best olives marinated in chilli and herbs, all will be perfect to enjoy with a summertime tipple in the garden.