Tapas have become a hallmark not only of Madrid, but of all of Spain. It seems that the word “tapa” has been included in all the languages of the world, since it is rare to find a visitor who does not know it. Even the famous writer Quevedo referred to them – under the curious name of “avisillo” – in his famous Buscón.
But where does this custom with such a peculiar name come from? Well let’s dig a bit…
A rather curious theory goes back to the reign of Alfonso X the Wise, whose to combat some ailment, his doctors prescribed to take sips of wine. But to avoid the effects of alcohol, the King used to accompany those drinks with small amounts of food. As the treatment worked fine, he ordered all the taverns serve some food with the wine.
Something similar is also attributed to the Catholic Kings, who worried about the incidents that occurred in the taverns due to the effects of alcohol, ordered the tavern owners to serve some food with the drinks.
It is also possible that the tapas arose from the need to protect beverages from insects, placing on the glass slices of ham, cheese or any other sausage that could serve as a barrier.
Another opinion, quite funny, is related with the King Alfonso XIII. During a trip to Cádiz the monarch stopped to have a wine on a beach. However, as it was quite windy there was a good chance that the sand would get into his cup. Then, a waiter placed a slice of ham as a cover.
Apparently, the King loved the idea, so he do not hesitate to repeat and, in this way, popularized such a custom.
The culture of “tapas” not only refers to gastronomy. It is a way social relations and even has different names according to the region: picaeta, chiquiteo …
So we encourage you to try the delicious and varied tapas that we offer in El Anciano Rey de los Vinos, where you will find the authentic atmosphere of a typical tavern in Madrid.