I’ve got to be honest; a large reason I chose to spend my fall semester studying in Barcelona was for the tapas.
Tapas originated in Spain, and they are delicious. They’re basically a wide variety of food, in snack-sized portions, usually served with a drink at a restaurant or bar. They can be served cold – such as cheese, ham, seafood salads, and olives – or hot, such as fried calamari, mussels, and garlic shrimp. They are the perfect dish to order when eating out with friends, because everyone can sample each other’s orders, and this easily creates one giant meal for everyone to enjoy. Tapas are unique because they are small, inexpensive plates rather than the larger, more expensive appetizers served at most restaurants in the United States. Perhaps even more exciting though is that at some restaurants in Spain one might be served a free tapa with their beverage, and who doesn’t love free food?
Since I’ve been in Barcelona for a few weeks, I definitely have some tapas that are my favorite. For one, I can’t stay away from patatas bravas – which are basically fried potato squares covered in a special sauce – and I would never think of going a few days without eating them. My friends and I will go for a plate of patatas at least three or four times a week in between classes, and we will always order them when friends come to visit it so we can show them just how delicious the food in Barcelona is. The other classic is fried calamari, a must-have tapa if you are visiting Barcelona.
Through the CEA program, my friends and I had the opportunity to attend a “Tapas Cooking Workshop”, where we learned to make our own tapas! There were different stations set up all over the room, and I ended up at the “gazpacho” table. Gazpacho is a cold Spanish soup, which originated in the southern region of the country – and luckily it isn’t very difficult to make. We had to chop a ridiculous amount of tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, garlic, and onions, and then put them into a bowl and blend them. Once the consistency of the soup was smooth, we added salt, pepper, and vinegar to taste, and it actually wasn’t bad!
Then came the best part of the workshop. We got to go around with a plate and taste the different tapas people had cooked at station – calamari, tomato bread and Manchego cheese, potato cake, tuna and peppers, and stuffed eggs – and they were incredible.
I know I’m going to miss tapas when I go back home, because there really isn’t anything that compares to these wonderful snacks. Luckily, I still have a lot of time left in Barcelona to enjoy eating, and now cooking, this wonderful dish!
Megan Lax is the Fall 2013 CEA MOJO in Barcelona, Spain. She is currently a junior at Duke University.
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