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The Four Penny Pub & Hotel | Spanish Tapas

Spanish Tapas

Bank Holiday Tapas

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Celebrate the long weekend with our new tapas menu! Join us on May 6th for a special bank holiday offer on Spanish wine with every tapas order.⁠


Experience the vibrant flavours of Spain with our carefully curated selection of tapas dishes in your lovely little local, the Fourpenny⁠.

The festivities will take place in our enchanting garden, where you can bask in the sunshine with the perfect soundtrack to this Spanish fiesta.

We have The Banditos performing live, bringing their infectious rhythms and melodies to make this a party to remember!

History Of Spanish Tapas

Tapas, the quintessential Spanish cuisine, are more than just small dishes of food; they represent a deep-rooted social and cultural tradition that spans centuries. The word “tapa” translates to “cover” or “lid” in Spanish, and this simple concept has evolved into a rich culinary tradition enjoyed in bars and restaurants across Spain and beyond.

The origins of tapas are steeped in history and legend. One popular tale suggests that the tradition began when King Alfonso X, “The Wise,” of Spain recovered from an illness by drinking wine with small dishes between meals. After regaining his health, the king decreed that no wine should be served in any of the inns of his kingdom without a small snack or “tapa.”

Another story involves the practical need to keep flies out of drinks; bartenders began covering glasses with bread slices or meat cuts. This not only kept the flies away but also had the added benefit of keeping patrons hydrated and thus, spending more time in the establishment.

Regardless of its true origins, the practice of serving tapas has evolved into an integral part of Spanish bar culture, with each region of Spain developing its own specialties based on local ingredients. In Andalusia, for example, tapas might include fried fish like calamari, while in the north, such as in the Basque Country, one might find pintxos—small snacks typically skewered with a toothpick onto a piece of bread.

Historically, tapas were simple, rustic foods: olives, cheese, and ham; or perhaps a small portion of stew. Over time, these evolved into more elaborate dishes, reflecting the creativity and diversity of Spanish cuisine. Today, tapas can range from a simple bowl of almonds or olives to sophisticated culinary creations, featuring ingredients like saffron, Iberian ham, and seafood, which showcase the rich gastronomic traditions of the region.

The 20th century saw tapas gaining popularity outside Spain, becoming a global phenomenon. Part of their appeal lies in their variety and adaptability. In many Spanish cities, an evening out might involve “tapas hopping” from bar to bar, enjoying different dishes and the social ambiance. This tradition emphasises the social aspect of eating, where food is as much about community and conversation as it is about sustenance.

Modern tapas are as varied as the chefs who create them. While traditional tapas remain popular, many chefs have embraced the concept to showcase innovative, avant-garde cuisine in small, approachable portions. This evolution has helped propel Spanish cuisine onto the international culinary stage, with tapas bars popping up in major cities worldwide.

Furthermore, the concept of tapas has influenced other culinary traditions, encouraging a style of eating that emphasises sharing, variety, and leisure. This approach to dining encourages diners to try a wide range of dishes, fostering a shared culinary experience that is both communal and festive.

In conclusion, the history of tapas is not just a tale of how food can evolve and adapt; it’s a story about how food can facilitate social interaction and celebrate regional identities. From humble beginnings as mere morsels meant to accompany a drink, tapas have become a dynamic and integral part of Spanish culture, embodying the joy of sharing good food, good company, and good times.

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