With a fashionable rash of tapas bars springing up across the UK, it seemed timely to head for tapas’ ancestral home of Spain to make a film for ITV This Morning about the whole phenomenon.
The concept of tapas is a series of small snacks, usually served with a drink, often eaten stood up and often free – imagine that in the UK!
The word ‘tapas’ actually means ‘lid’. The history of tapas’, origins are disputed. Some say the tapas was served as a cover for the wine-glass to keep flies off, others that the King ordered free food be served with each drink to limit drunkenness.
Although the Spanish capital of Madrid is the Spiritual home of tapas, we headed for the unspoilt Costa Del La Luz in Southern Spain for a sun-drenched flavour of Iberian authenticity.
We filmed our tapas hunt in the old town of Jerez, home to the atmospheric Gonzales Byass sherry cellars which make for a fantastic visit.
The Spanish eat late with most bars deserted until well after ten pm. Different bars have different, often surprising specialities. For instance, one bar we visited served award-winning fresh artichoke hearts and marinated shark, mouth-meltingly tender.
The experienced tapas-hand never spends a whole evening in one bar. The whole point is to do a kind of elegant pub crawl, eating what’s good over the course of several hours in a variety of locations. Our filming was done on the hoof. It made for a fantastic memorable trip and film.
Always eat where it’s crowded. The Spanish have an impressive awareness of good fresh food and give the cold shoulder to any bar that fails to meet their exacting standards.