Don’t you hate going out to eat and having to choose between all those delicious things on the menu? That’s the genius of tapas: you can choose lots of little dishes instead of just one big one. It reconfirms my opinion that Spain is one of the best places in the world. Seville takes credit for inventing the concept of tapas although there is some disagreement about the exact means by which these small plates came about. Some say it was when King Alfonso X was recovering from illness and could only eat small meals, others attribute it to King Alfonso XII traveling through Andalucia and being served a glass of sherry with a slice of ham on top to stop sand blowing into the liquid. What is not in dispute is that tapa means lid and the tradition of tapas did begin with small items of food being used to cover wine and sherry to stop sand, flies and whatever else from falling in.
The people of Seville are so committed to tapas (the estimate is that in Seville and surrounding areas there are 7000 tapas bars) that every February through March they hold the annual tapas festival. Around fifty restaurants compete to come up with the best dishes and many others rise to the festive spirit with special offerings. The official hub of the festival is the Palacio de Congresos y Exposiciones (Avenida de Alcalde de Luis Urunuela) but if you wander into pretty well any tiny tapas bar around town you’ll find a taste sensation. The challenge is to find the same bar the following night in a town full of tapas.
The festival in 2012 ends March 21st, so be sure you don’t miss out!