Err, no, just no

How Britain got the taste for TAPAS: From paella

Paella ain’t a tapas.

Bad Daily, Mail, bad newspaper.

25 thoughts on “Err, no, just no”

  1. Pendantry forces me to suggest that paella ain’t a tapa.

    However, I can only just about order a beer in Spanglish, so I may be wrong.

  2. It is feasible that a small ration of paella (prepared in a large paella dish) could be served as a tapa.

    Never seen it. But I don’t live around Valencia.

    But paella as such clearly is not a tapa which originated as a little something given free to accompany your drink and has morphed (or is morphing) into a Michelin 3 star saucer sized snack well worth paying a couple of euros for.

  3. bloke (not) in spain

    Paella (two L’s pronounce as a Y) is the Spanish version of the rice ‘n bits dish common to poor people in various parts of the world. Rice for bulk & chuck in whatever bits of meat ‘n stuff’s hanging around. In the Valencia region it’s customarily a Sunday lunch dish, cooked by the men standing around the asado swigging beer & discussing football. Any unfortunate Brit bystanders are required to participate in the subsequent eating, taking care to remember the suspicious black bits are very likely flies.
    A small portion of paella could indeed be a tapa because Spanish bars often put a small sample of the days dishes beside your drink.
    But Brits, or certainly their restaurants, certainly haven’t got the taste for tapas because the essential nature of a tapa is it’s free. Not as in:
    “Would you like a tapa with your drink?”
    “Oh yes. Thanks. That’d be nice”
    “That’ll be £2.50”
    “Fuck off!”

  4. bloke (not) in spain

    Just to add:
    The economists here will no doubt be pointing out, the tapa is not “free” because you’re paying for it in the cost of the drink. This is wrong. Bars usually make sure tapas are salty enough you’ll soon be needing another drink. Thus the combination of drinks & accompanying tapas can keep you in a bar all day.

  5. I may be wrong, it has happened, but there are plenty of places in Barcelona where you go and you order beer and you order tapas and the tapas are a couple of euros each.

    Incidentally the notion of free grub with your evening beer is carried to extremes in Milan, where some places have great groaning tables of quite decent nosh and it is frequently unnecessary subsequently to go for supper. they charge a small premium in the booze price, but still very good value, and an alient concept to your average city pub in Blighty I suspect.

  6. @ BniS
    “Bars usually make sure tapas are salty enough you’ll soon be needing another drink.”

    Ah, so it’s Spanish for “crisps” – free crisps at the bar normally causes the next round to arrive early…

  7. The tapas certainly wasn’t free the only time I’ve had it. In fact, I ate about three small dishes and my split of the bill was £45, not including wine! It turns out someone ordered a plate of some 200 year old ham or something and stuffed their face with it.

    Never again.

  8. Free tapas are a regional thing in Madrid and heading South.

    But trendy bars all over are upping the ante (some with more success than others) and charging for better quality.

    Google: tapas en San Sebastian
    and you will see what I mean.

  9. bloke (not) in spain

    Strictly speaking tapas are FREE. The word comes from the Spanish for top(per). The cover put on a drink to stop flies committing suicide. The apocryphal is, like all traditions Andalucian, linked to Fernando y Isabela – Los Reinos Católicos (1492, Granada ‘an all that) – the latter who is said to have been presented with her drink-cover with a snack on.
    The pay-for snacks being talked about are the things usually listed in Spanish bars & priced. Like most Mediterranean cultures,, the plata combinada or meat ‘n two veg meal doesn’t really figure. Meals were traditionally more in the nature of separate dishes eaten consecutively.
    The pay-for tapa really got itself established with the idiot tourists who fell for it & has regrettably spread even to occasionally Spanish serving establishments.

  10. The pay-for tapa really got itself established with the idiot tourists who fell for it

    Having seen the average Brit abroad I’m guessing that it is more likely pissed up Brits kicked the arse out of the free food bit and bar owners had to start charging to protect their bottom line.

  11. bloke (not) in spain

    Yer pissed up Brit will usually be drinking in a bar showing UK soaps on a widescreen 24/7, run by a couple from Barnsley. Has about as much to do with Spanish culture as the fullenglishwivcuppa & fish, chips ‘n mushy peas menu. Pay-for tapas are the province of the Visa brandishing middle-classes.
    The Spanish bar proprietor would regard the salted, salty chorizo with extra salt as a wise investment in beer sales.

  12. Paella (two L’s pronounce as a Y) is the Spanish version of the rice ‘n bits dish common to poor people in various parts of the world.

    Yup: paella, risotto, plov, pilaf, gumbo…all the same concept.

  13. Bloke in Costa Rica

    In this neck of the woods the equivalent is the ‘boca’. Tortilla chips with pico de gallo, or carne mechada (yum!), perhaps a little bowl of guacamole. Seafood places might roll out a few garlic prawns or some ceviche. Often it’s a ‘buy another beer, get another boca’ sort of a deal. You can indeed eat a full meal’s worth this way, but you will have had 12 or 14 beers* into the bargain.

    * or diet cokes, for that matter, and bars love people buying soft drinks.

  14. bloke (not) in spain

    “..paella, risotto, plov etc”
    I’m trying to think of a Brit equivalent & not really coming up with one. Probably indicates, despite belief of Guardianistas all, the UK hasn’t had genuinely poor people for a very long time.

  15. B(n)iS: the UK hasn’t had genuinely poor people for a very long time

    Be that as it may, our staples have been wheat and spuds for quite some time and they lend themselves to different kinds of meal.

  16. @bloke (not) in Spain: There’s no British equivalent to rice dishes for the simple reason that we don’t grow rice here. The UK versions of high starch dishes use potatoes instead – shepherd’s pie, stovies, meat and potatoes, fish pie, bubble and squeak, corned beef hash, etc, etc.

  17. I reckon generic stew is the Brit equivalent. Lots of root vegetables for bulk with a few dodgy meat pieces for flavour.

  18. bloke (not) in spain

    @Mr Ed
    Yeah, I wondered about lancashire hot pot etc.
    But those Valencianos* are at least the sons of poor people. Real poverty, not the Rowntree Trust variety. Their paella is a neck wrung chicken & what can be scraped off the rocks. That’s the kids’ job Sunday morning. Fishing & looking for shellfish along the beach. It’s harking back to what Valencianos got to eat if they were lucky.

    *Valencianos eat rice because Valencia grows rice. The chica dela casa cooks a similar dish that’s beans ‘n bits. it’s a traditional dish from the Aburrá in Colombia. Most peasant cultures have something similar, based on whatever the cheap staple is.

  19. I the late 70s the landlady of the Sun Inn, Pickering, N Yorks used to put the beef dripping from her Sunday roast with white bread on the bar on a Sunday lunchtime. Not sure if that counts as tapas, though?

  20. The best paella in the whole world is served in Santiago de Chile, in an restaurant around the corner from the Mantos Blancos offices. They served it as a speciality dish on Fridays, and being Chile, with all that fish from the Pacific to choose from, the prawns and sliced sausages were more plentiful than the rice.

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