There are countless legends about the origin of the tapa. One of the most famous legends dates back to the Middle Ages, and takes place during the reign of King Alfons X, nicknamed the Wise. An illness had forced him to rest and his court doctor had ordered him to drink wine every day, along with some small amount of food to prevent the wine from rising to his head too quickly. The king made a good and fast recovery, he later passed a law requiring pubs to serve a small bite with each glass of wine. For everyone's health!
|Picture by Harry Fabel|
Another well-known story starring a king takes place in the days of the Catholic Kings. While visiting Cadiz, in the south of Spain, King Ferdinand VII ordered a glass of wine, and the landlord brought him a glass of wine topped with a slice of cheese to prevent dust or insects from getting into the wine.
This story may be a kind of correct because the word "tapas" is believed to be derived from the Castilian verb 'tapar' which means "cover" or 'to cover'. There is however a small difference between Tapas and Pinchos, another kind of Spanish fast food which usually consists of small slices of bread on which one or more ingredients are attached using a small skewer. You can read more about the difference here.
Either way, the tapa is inextricably linked to the history of Spain. The tapa has become a common name worldwide and is like no other symbol for Spanish gastronomy! We mainly remember that a tapa is good for our health and it keeps insects away from your wine. Kings have experienced this. Cheers!