The tapa is the most versatile food in Spain. It can be eaten in the morning, in the afternoon for a pick-me-up and at night for a light dinner. Wait a minute though. What is a tapa? Despite the fact that the tapa and tapas bars have become quite trendy in the last few years, not everyone knows what it even is.
Basically, a tapa is a small ration of food or a bite-sized stacked appetizer that can be made of hundreds of ingredients. Depending on what part of Spain you are in, one tapa will be more popular than another. Spain loves to party, and so it makes sense that the Spanish culture has basically invented the perfect party food: the tapa.
There are so many tapas, and most call for traditional Spanish ingredients. However, if you want to throw a bit of Spanish flair into your holiday party this year, these tapas are easy to make both organic and scrumptious.
The Basic: Cheese, Ham, Bread
- In almost any part of Spain you can order cheese, sausages and bread. Make a platter for your party and watch it disappear as guests arrive. On a tray, arrange slices of smoked sausages and cured ham. If your butcher knows something about Spanish meats, tell him or her that you are looking for 'Fuet' and 'Jamon Iberico', or something close to it. These hams should be smoked, not fresh.
- On another platter arrange your cheeses. Go for an organic sheep's cheese sliced, beside it a wedge of Manchego sliced and beside this a softer goat cheese. Sprinkle pine nuts, walnuts, peeled almond and dried fruit around the edges. Another way to serve the Manchego is apart, sliced, and drizzled with olive oil. Sprinkle with pepper and salt.
- Finally, you'll need some bread. In Catalonia bread is served cut and toasted, then rubbed with tomato and fresh garlic. Then drizzle olive oil over the slices and add salt. It may sound weird, but 'Pa amb Tomaquet' or Bread with Tomato is delicious along with cheese and cured meats.
These ingredients should be fairly easy to find organic in North America. All of the above is produced organically in Spain.
Photo and text by Regina Winkle-Bryan