Monday, November 15, 2010

Searching for the perfect Tapas
Part 1
Seville, Spain
November 7, 2010
2:00 PM

I’m walking with my daughter Ashley down a narrow street in Seville around 2:00 in the afternoon. We have just arrived in Spain for a week long trip. Having flown overnight into Madrid and then catching the AVI bullet train down to Seville, I am ready to get out and explore and exercise my legs even though I feel pretty jet-lagged. Our hotel San Gil is beautiful and taking the guidebook with me, I am confident I will find a good place for a quick bite to eat.
Seville is the largest European city I have been in. The streets around our hotel are narrow—only about the width of a car with two narrow sidewalks on either side. The buildings arise on each side in a solid 3-story wall, which remind me of the canyons Luke Skywalker flew down on the Death Star in the first Star Wars movie. Within a block I start to feel lost, not able to see more than a block ahead or behind me because of the turns in the road. There are people walking on the street, but no shops are open because it is siesta time. We go a couple of blocks and turn a corner and there is an intersection ahead with a wide part in the sidewalk that has a few tables outside. We walk up to a bar that is behind the tables and peer in. Even though there are people at the tables, they mostly seem to be drinking. I don’t really see a menu and the bartender is ignoring us, so we decide to move on. Another couple of blocks we find another intersection with another bar and more tables. This time the bartender seems friendly and I order a beer for me and a glass of wine for Ashley. I ask if they have Tapas and they reply that no, they only have Bocadillos. This is a French baguette sliced in half with meat and cheese. Because we are getting hungry, I order one with Chorizo and cheese. I go out to the table to wait and after several minutes decide to go back in to check on the order and get another beer. I am wondering if they have forgotten about us, but the sandwich is about ready and I take it outside. Now, I am feeling guilty because I know Ashley is vegetarian, but she peels off the meat and eats the bread and cheese. The sandwich is OK, not nearly as good as the baguette sandwiches in France which are loaded with vegetables, and come with all sorts of meat or non-meat choices. So at the end of my first Spanish meal, I feel slightly let down. We move on.


  1. Salty tapas = thirsty = buy more drinks. The tapas tradition began when king Alfonso X of Castile recovered from an illness by drinking wine with small dishes between meals. After regaining his health, the king ordered that taverns would not be allowed to serve wine to customers unless it was accompanied by a small snack or "tapa." According to The Joy of Cooking, the original tapas were the slices of bread or meat which sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. This was a practical measure meant to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the sweet sherry. The meat used to cover the sherry was normally ham or chorizo, which are both very salty and activate thirst. Because of this, bartenders and restaurant owners began creating a variety of snacks to serve with sherry, thus increasing their alcohol sales.[1] The tapas eventually became as important as the sherry. Not sure if it is illegal today for taverns to serve drinks without "tapas". In some Central American countries such snacks are known as bocas.

  2. I had some really good sherry in Spain, but free tapas probably went out with the Spanish peso.