Take a fresh look at tapas
When I go along to friend’s houses I’m delighted to get a bag of crisps and a bought dip. I’ll happily scarf the lot, if no one’s looking! But take a trip to southern Europe and this modest offering would be deemed sacrilege. Small slivers of perfectly cured local hams atop a crisp olive-oil soaked crostini and balanced with a perfectly marinated olive is a ‘simple’ snack in even the most basic of cafes.
Our nearest teeny-sized British equivalent would be a canapé. This can be anything from a shrunken pork pie to a shot glass of gazpacho or a deconstructed lemon meringue pie – as long as it is small enough to be gulped down in one. Canapés are normally passed around at a formal event, whereas tapas is usually much more casual and can be quite indulgent.
The thing I like most about tapas is that the ingredients are the main event. It is pared back, with great local produce grown or raised together making the taste so much better.
The beginnings of tapas are heavily debated. One theory is they started in bars as a solution to stopping pesky fruit flies from landing in drinks. They were generally bread-based lids (tapas means to cover!) that clever bar owners topped with whatever they had to hand.
Another story is that when King Alfonso X became ill he was prescribed small regular meals throughout the day to combat effects of his regular consumption of wine. Following his recovery he made a law that declared no wine could be served without some food alongside.
Can you have Scottish tapas?
Of course we can make our own tapas here in Fife using locally-grown ingredients. Fresh oatcakes, local cheese and a fresh chutney is an easy suggestion, that had you been sat in the sunshine would easily sidle into tapas territory. A small drop scone, local smoked salmon and some crowdie will also easily compete with the best our Spanish sisters can produce.
Small bites are a great social way of eating and encouraging chat at social events so it is worth the effort to make one or two different plates. This is also a useful way of using up teeny bits of what’s left in your fridge. What might not look enough to feed a hungry cat can end up being eeked out with a store cupboard ingredients to create a party-worthy feast!
If you fancy making your own tapas you can book a ticket for our Spanish Tapas workshop at the Lang Spoon Community Kitchen on Tuesday 14th March.
Samantha Kirk, Community Chef