A tapa (plural tapas) is just one of the ways you can get your food here, around the Iberian peninsula.
Usually, the way that food is served, as well as the kind of dish used, determine its name, so you might have plato (dish), racion (portion), tapa (snack), pintxo (food on a stick) or montadito (food on bread).
One of the most popular stories about the origins of tapas claims that, back in the 13th century, King Alfonso X of Castille found that, while he was recuperating from an illness, he could only eat and drink in small amounts – resulting in one of the first forms of tapas.
Another story goes that, around the turn of the 20th century, King Alfonso XIII traveled to the city of Cádiz, where he visited a famous tavern for a wine; the owner of the bar placed a slice of jamón ibérico over the King’s cup, saying it was a tapa (cover) to protect the wine from sand blown in from the city’s famously windy beaches. The king, impressed , ordered another wine “with the cover” and, pretty soon, tapas – slices of bread topped with meat or cheese and placed over drinks to avoid dust and insects – became common across the south and center of the country.
Tapa literally means a cover or a lid – and this is a common facet to many tapas origin stories.
Tapas are, according to the Royal Spanish Academy, a small portion of any food, served to accompany a drink. Having some tapas is tapear (or picar, if the tapas is finger-food). You will also find that tapas follow the gastronomic tastes and traditions of each region in the Iberian peninsula, still the tapas of olives, nuts, meats and cheeses are universal to all areas. In addition to these typical tapas, there is a world of possibilities in the form of different recipes that tapas bars have mastered, encompassing ingredients including meats, fish, vegetables, eggs and many other foods served in small forms.