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Tapas: the Creative Taste of Spain

Grazing the tapas bars of Barcelona is one of the best ways to introduce yourself to the rich gastronomic landscape that comprises Spanish cuisine. Tapas, Spanish for "lid," or "to cover," refers to placing the appetizer on top of your drink. Local theories swirl as to its origin. Some indicate it is to identify that your drink has been purchased. Others believe it is to keep anything in the air out of your drink. Since many in Barcelona enjoy tapas standing up, covering your drink seems to fit for sampling on the go.

Olives. Bread. Codfish. Squid.

Generally, tapas bars offer anywhere from eight to twelve hot and cold appetizers. In the video, Chef Oscar Manresa prepares for Karine many of the more classic tapas dishes: Tortillas de Patatas - a very typical potato omelette; Pan con Tomato - a tomato and garlic topped bread similar to Italian bruschetta; Llauna - seared codfish; a tapas-size portion of the well-known Spanish paella with crusty rice on the bottom; and for dessert, Crema Catalana - a baked custard very similar to crème brulée. Tapas encourage conversation and making new friends.

Late-night Dining and Music

Tapas and bar hopping are ingrained in the Spanish culture because the locals are usually on the move into the wee hours. Often, dinner doesn't begin before 9:00 PM and it's not uncommon for service to go on as late as midnight. This gives you the opportunity to step right from the table to the street to seek out places where good music and lively conversation happen well into the night.