I had read a lot about the ‘free’ tapas in Granada before we arrived but didn’t think much about it other than it might be a nice garnish (pun intended) to our experience. Now that I am here, I have become enamored of, perhaps even addicted to, the ritual of going for tapas.
Having a drink and a tapa is a social event and one can either stay at the same place ordering several rounds of drinks and tapas or move from place to place to try the different offerings.
For me there are two times of the day I like to ‘tapear’: In the late afternoon to tide me over until dinner, which is rarely eaten before 9pm or alternatively, in the evening as a kind of light dinner. The main meal of the day is eaten at lunchtime (2.30pm).
So what’s involved?
While partaking in a tapa or two on a daily basis, what I have learned about this highly valued custom is:
- A tapa (singular) or tapas (plural) will accompany any drink order (except coffees or hot chocolate) from 12pm until late.
- The tapa is free of charge with any purchased drink
- A glass of wine cost between €2-€3.50 in Granada and a caña of beer costs €1.70
- Each subsequent drink you order will be accompanied by a different tapa and you will never be served the same tapa twice.
- You can often hear the waiters telling the kitchen “first tapa” or “second or third” and the cook knows to make a different tapa.
- The tapa changes every day in each bar or café.
- Many bars pride themselves on their new invented tapas while others just do the same standard fare of potatoes and bread.
- If you are a group that orders several drinks then you will often be presented with a share platter and several small forks around the plate
- The Spanish language has its own verb for having tapas: ‘TAPEAR’.
- Granada is the last place in Spain, I am told, to serve FREE tapas with a drink.
- You do not have to drink alcohol to get a tapa. Our kids also receive a tapa with their apple juice.
So what exactly is a tapa?
It is a small portion or taster of a meal, often cooked but not always. Here are some visual examples of tapas I have eaten in Granada:
The result of my affinity for tapas is that I no longer buy unhealthy snacks on the street like a packet of chips (crisps) or a bread roll as I can sit down in a bar and have a cooked snack made for me. On the negative but also fun side: I am drinking far more beer and wine than ever before. I pretty much have at least one ‘caña’ of beer or ‘copa de vino’ every day.
I will very much miss this Spanish custom when I return home. With a glass of wine accompanied by…zilch costing $10-$13 in Sydney, I could run out of cash pretty quickly if I tried to import my Spanish lifestyle.
My dad recounted a funny (in a dark sort of way) story to me about his return to Sydney after spending a month with us in Granada. He went for a drink with his tennis buddies at the local bowling club and rather than take his wallet, he put $5 in his pocket thinking it would buy a couple of beers just like in Spain. After ordering a beer, the bar tender said: “That’ll be $7.50 please”, at which point my dad, red faced, had to borrow money from his mates. He said he didn’t venture out again for two weeks after that as he was shocked by the cost of things in Sydney.
Needless to say, I think we will be eating at home quite a lot when we return to Sydney, particularly as I just read a survey released this month that ranked Sydney as the 5th most expensive city in the world. It’s certainly no longer the ‘Banana republic’ I grew up in with its laid-back lifestyle and struggling economy. For now though, I might just meditate on that thought over a tapa at my local bar in Granada…while I can!!