What is Tapas

We head to Boqueria to learn the ins and outs of true Spanish tapas
Ali Rosen

Pan con Tomate and Tortila Española

They may be small plates, but they have become a big trend. The phrase ‘small plates’ has become a catch-all for both small portions and tapas, but these genres are not one and the same. We spoke to Marc Vidal, executive chef at Boqueria, to get to the truth on tapas and clear up this common conflation.

Tapas are more than just a plate of food. Vidal says, “For me, tapas are a way of life.” According to Vidal,  "In every different region in Spain, you’re going to get different kinds of tapas.” As you travel from north to south, the specialties change.

Along with pan con tomate, Vidal recommends gambas al ajillo, shrimp with garlic and Guindilla pepper, as well as tortilla española, a traditional Spanish omelet, for tapas beginners. He says the tortilla española is “the number one classic tapas dish in Spain.”

So, how did these miniature meals come about? Vidal shares two legends about the history of tapas, but it’s up to you to decide which one is true.

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Watch the video above to learn more about how tapas came to be and make sure to try Boqueria for true Spanish tapas.