On Tapa(s) the World

Lately, millennials have become what is known as “A foodie.” Whether they do it to gain followers on social media, especially Instagram, or they legitimately have an interest and passion for food will never be clear because people go a long way when it comes to social media. However, there is always a back story as to how pictures of food end up on the Internet and how they become so popular and enjoyable to scroll through. As known throughout the world, tapas symbolizes Spain as a traditional way of dining.

Dating back to history after the Spanish Civil War, due to food scarcity, people would eat small mouthfuls of food to keep their hunger regulated. This was just the beginning of how tapas truly came to be. Now, it has evolved to be a clear understanding of present day cooking in Spain. Tapas also combines the concept of eating along with socializing with a group of people. There are many kinds of tapas, including whether they are served hot or cold. Some popular cold tapas include aceitunas (olives), jamón, queso, anchoas (salted pickles or anchovies), and embutidos (cured meat). The ultimate hot tapas are patatas bravas, but other known favorites are tortilla de patatas and pimientos del padrón (green peppers).

On February 9, 2017, CEA, a study abroad program for American students, offered a hands-on activity program called “Tapas Cooking Workshop.” There, students were able to gain knowledge about the history of tapas while proceeding to physically create and serve dishes of their own as supervised by the chef and instructor.

In order to make the calamari, the squid needed to be cleaned first by rinsing it in water and salt and then patting it dry with a paper towel until most of the water was soaked up. It is important to prepare the squid by keeping it mostly dry so that once it is placed in the deep fryer, it can be cooked properly. Once they were all clean, the students took a sharp knife to cut the squids up into even rings and placed the pieces into a bowl to be covered with flour. Following, the raw squid was taken to the deep fryer that was filled with oil with five minutes of the allotted cooking time. Lastly, the calamari was taken out of the fryer with tongs and placed onto a plate. To finish, lemon was squeezed on top for additional flavor. This is a prime example of a hot tapas.

The next station was a lot simpler, but it considered to be a very traditional tapa. The tomato bread has a lot of flavor with only five easy ingredients: bread, tomato, garlic, olive oil, and salt. First, the bread needs to be toasted until it turns golden brown. Second, the garlic should be chopped into small pieces and sprinkled on top of the bread. Following that, the tomato has to be cut in half and then by using the open face side, it is rubbed on the bread. When this is done, the bread should be tinted light red. Finally to top it off, olive oil is lightly drizzled with a pinch of salt on top. This dish is a great for beginners. Students have reported that the day after this cooking class, they went to the super market, bought the ingredients, and made tomato bread in their apartment for an appetizer to dinner. Tomato bread is on almost every menu at the restaurants here in Barcelona which is what makes it such a classic and popular treat in Spain.

At the end of the workshop, all of the students got to try each other’s dishes. Not only did this class allow American students to soak up cultural food, but they were able to meet others who are in the same program. Having such an interactive activity at the beginning of study abroad is very beneficial because most people are not fully adjusted yet and it seems comforting to know everyone is in the same boat.

Skylar Lowy, a CEA study abroad student from Los Angeles, California took the time to answer a few questions about her experience at the tapas cooking workshop. Watch the exclusive interview below.

Before arriving to Barcelona, Lowy wasn’t much of a chef nor did she know much about the meaning of tapas. It is evident that after taking this workshop, she has been inspired to bring home some of the traditions of Spain back to her home in America and is enthusiastic about spreading her newly found knowledge.

Check out some of these tapas recipes! They are delicious. It is highly recommended to have a few easy recipes handy to help improve cooking skills and to practice for fun. Eventually, recipes get memorized by heart and then anyone can put their own twist on it and experiment to make the original recipe even better.Another great thing about tapas is that they are so easy to serve at family dinners, large parties, or even as a mid-day snack.

Part of what comes with studying abroad is soaking up a new culture. Some of these students did not even know that these six tapas recipes even existed prior to arriving in Barcelona, Spain. When studying and living in a foreign country for fourth months, it is important to take in as much as one can of their surroundings. This was a great and fun way for them to learn about the history of tapas and actually get a taste of the hype of what represents Spain itself.

Even for the millenials who don’t consider themselves as “foodies,” it can still be fascinating to try new foods and learn about what is actually being consumed. Knowing the origin of what is served on a plate just makes it all that more flavorful.

The tradition of tapas will never die down. Not only are they craving, but they are a great way for people to get together and try a bunch of small dishes rather than just one big one individually. The students who participated in this program would like to thank CEA for this incredible opportunity and will continue to embrace the Spanish culture of food for the duration of their study abroad.



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