An important element of Spanish culture is eating tapas. They refer to a wide range of snacks prepared with various ingredients eaten with drinks.
The Spanish eat them between main meals. In international circumstances, they are very common as party and finger food.
Tapas bars are very common in Spain, where you will get some sorts of tapas most of the time free if you order a drink.
Since these snacks are an important element of Spanish culture, it has its own jargon. There are some specific words you should be aware of. Below is the most important words and phrases regarding tapas are summarized.
Tapas is the plural of the word “tapa” which stems from the verb tapar. Tapar means to cover. As you can guess, its noun form tapa means cover or lid.
Snacks which are named as tapas have received this name because originally at bars the drinks were protected from flies by using these kinds of small food to “cover” the drink. Then, the word “tapa” was started to refer to all such snacks.
An important word you should learn in this context is tapear. Because in the context of tapas, you will not use tapar as a verb but instead you will use tapear which means to go out and get some tapas at bars.
Get used to the following expression:
¡ Vamos a tapear ! : Let’s go to have some tapas!
or its short form:
¡ A tapear !
- (EL) TAPEO
The noun (el) tapeo comes from it and it is used in many related expressions. It may be used to refer to tapas generally or the culture & cuisine of tapas.
For example; “de tapeo” is used to refer to eating while standing. The following expressions are also useful:
bar de tapeo: tapas bar
ir de tapeo: go to the tapas bar
or you can also use ir de tapas instead of “ir de tapeo”.
In Spanish, portion is (la) ración. Its plural is raciones. Regarding tapas, on the other hand, a little caution is required. Because “una ración” will refer to a dinner plate sized tapa in this case. Note also that “raciones” is used to mean also tapas like food.
Another interesting word is (el) pincho. It is a word used to refer to byte size tapas. Pincho can also be used to refer to some types of snacks different from tapas but sometimes you may hear that it is used just to mean tapa. It literally means spike.
A word very similar to pincho is (el) pinchito. Again, it can be used to refer to tapa or another tapa-like snack. As you know the suffix -ito is used to form diminutive nouns. So, pinchito is used generally to mean tiny size pinchos.
Other related words
cosas de picar: literally means things to nibble, it can be used to refer to tapa-like food.
banderilla: this word has various meanings. It is the colorful sticks used in bullfighting and can also mean torero. Regarding tapas, it means decorated toothpick. Banderillas are usually uncooked and simple tapas, they can be made of olives or anchovies for example.
Another word used to name snacks like tapas is montadito. It is a canape like tapa.
Well-known sorts of tapas
tortilla española: Spanish Omelet. One of the most famous dishes in Spain, made with patato, eggs and onion.
patatas bravas: another well-known tapa prepared with potatoes and brava sauce. The latter is a spicy tomato sauce prepared using olive oil, onion, garlic and paprika.