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Tapas - Spanish Delight!

Going for tapas is one of the most popular activities for visitors to Spain and likewise is extremely popular with the locals. Often there is confusion about what a tapa is.  Some people order a tapa (or a selection of tapas) as their starters which is generally acceptable but the idea behind tapas is that your whole meal is made up of various tapas meaning you can eat lots of little things and try out new things too.

Tapa in itself is not any specific type of food, it can be anything from a croquete to lavishly prepared seafood and infact just about anything inbetween.  What tapas means is a small portion of something.  Often tapas are served with a drink. Many tapas bars and restaurante offer "tapa y Caña" which is a small beer and a tapa together for a small fee (often as little as one euro, depending on where you go).  This can be a great way to eat and drink well for very little money.  Other people prefer to order their beer, wine or of course sangrea seperately and a selection of tapas dishes - and sharing is the big thing in Spain.

In countries such as the UK it is common in restaurants to order "your food" and each person select what they want but in Spain the culture of sharing is a wonderful experience and many argue that there is no better way to spend an evening than with a group of friends of family, a table full of amazing tapas dishes to try and to share and of course wine, beer and conversation!

When you hire your all inclusive car hire from Drivalia at Alicante airport or Mallorca airport you have the freedom to explore a wide area and find some amazing tapas bars and restaurants and we will give some of our recommended dishes shortly, but first.. where did the idea of tapas come from?

There are a number of theories regarding how it came to be that the Spanish loved to eat a small piece of food with their drink.  Legend has it that because of illness the thirteenth century Castilian king Alfonso X (the Wise) had to eat small snacks with his wine between meals to maintain his strength, and after recovering passed a law that wine or beer served in taverns had to be accompanied by food. In reality though the reasons are probably more practical when you consider the translation of "tapa" which to English means "lid".  Covering a glass of wine or beed with a small plate keeps the flies away and what a better way to use the plate than put a little snack on top!  Of course also with the Spaniards often eating their main meal in the evening, historically tapas was a great way for workers to "snack" throughout the day to keep themselves going until dinner time!

Now of course tapas is whatever you want it to be but one of the best things about tapas is that as the dishes are small you can try things you wouldn´t perhaps try as a main course without the fear of paying for a main dish you might not like!

Some tapas bars are bars where you order at the bar and others offer a table service.  Tapas are often small portions of main dishes so if there is something that you particularly like you may be able to buy "un ración" (a complete dish).

Don´t rush your tapas dinner, a lot of the food is prepared in advance and if you order four or five things they coudl all come at once and you may end up overwhelmed with food.  Order a few things, enjoy them and if you are still hungry order more.

So, whilst you are out and about exploring Spain with your all inclusive car hire from Alicante airport or Mallorca airport from Drivalia here are some of our suggestions of tapas dishes to try:

  • Gambas al Ajillo - Fresh prawns cooked in sizzling olive oil with garlic and often chilli peppers
  • Allioli - Similar to garlic mayo (but much nicer), prepared with egg, garlic and if home-made is a really rich and tasty sause.  Usually served with "pan" (bread)
  • Bacalao - Cod, often served in bread crumbs
  • Calamares - Fried squid rings, usually in batter and often confused for onion rings - delicious if cooked right!
  • Chipirones - Small baby squid fried and crunchy - a personal favourite amongst the Drivalia team!
  • Patatas bravas - Potato chunks served usually with tomato sauce and allioli
  • Ensaladilla Rusa - a little similar to a potatoe salad but rich and creamy and usually topped with grated dried egg yolk
  • Tortilla - Traditional Spanish omelet, deep, moist and extremely tasty
  • Jamón Iberico - Cured Spanish ham, melts in the mouth.  Jamon serrano is the cheaper option but also extremely good and usually carved from the ham there and then
  • Albóndigas - Meatballs, usually pork but can be beef or even fish
  • Arroz del Día - "Paella", rice of the day.  Usually a local speciality with either meat, seafood or snails!
  • Caracoles - Snails!  Usually cooked in garlic and surprisingly nice (try them, we dare you!)
  • Chorizo - Spicy sausage
  • Morcilla - very similar to Black pudding but in the form of a sausage
  • Boquerones - Anchovies

The list really does go on and you will find local specialities and dishes of the day wherever you go.  Remember that eating is a very social experience in Spain so the atmosphere, especially in restaurants frequented by the locals can be a little noisey from the talking but the atmosphere also can be hard to beat!

Of course, with wine and beer flowing you have to think carefully who is responsible for the driving but with Drivalia Ultimate all inclusive car hire at Alicante airport and Mallorca airport you get a free second driver so you can take it in turns to sample the local liquid delights!

Don´t forget also that when you book the Ultimate package with Drivalia, as well as a free second driver you benefit from our full to full car hire fuel policy, unlimited km car hire and complete peace of mind knowing that your car comes with fully comprehensive insurance with no excess.  No excess means no credit card deposit which is why Drivalia are proud to offer debit card car hire at Alicante airport and of course in Palma de Mallorca too - all with one final price that really is all you pay!  This is for sure why we are fastly becoming recognised as offering the most honest and transparent car hire at Alicante airport and Mallorca airport.