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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2001, MCB UP Limited
These are the delicious little dishes of Spain that are eaten before lunch and again before dinner. They differ very much from the usual "nibbles" that are served in the UK before meals, such as peanuts, pretzels, potato chips and rather soggy canapés. These are much too filling and often spoil one's appetite for what is to come in the main meal. Tapas are designed to be appetizers and many tapas bars can be found in all parts of Spain. Of course it is important to realise that the main meal of the day in Spain is often served late in the evening and so something must be eaten to avoid the pangs of hunger while one waits, perhaps as late as ten o'clock, for the main meal. For a Spaniard tapas are appetisers to be followed, later in the day, by lunch or dinner.
Tapas are thought to have originated in Andalucia in the nineteenth century. This region of Spain is famous for its sherry, which is sipped as an aperitif before a meal together with a tapas or two – or perhaps even three or four. Originally the tapa was a slice of cured ham or chorizo sausage placed over the rim of the wine glass. In Spanish, the verb tapar means to cover. The slice of meat over the glass was salty and this encouraged the consumer to drink.
For many tapas become a more than adequate substitute for a real meal and it is the Spaniards who eat them as a preparation for a meal to stimulate the appetite. On holiday in Spain it is fun to go from bar to bar eating the different varieties on offer and to do without the formal meal that usually follows late in the evening. Now it is possible to enjoy Spanish tapas in the UK.
Brookerpaks has concluded an agreement with Antipasti of Los Alcazares (Murcia) to market and distribute a range of original Spanish vegetable tapas products. The range includes grilled artichokes, black olive tapenade, grilled red mushrooms, grilled oyster mushrooms, grilled aubergines, spiced black olives and spiced green olives. The consumer products in the Taparica range come in 90-gram packs with an ambient shelf life of eight months. In Sainsbury's these cost £1.99. Catering packs are also available. The products will be available from supermarkets, independents and wholesalers.