Most food historians point to Spanish King Alfonso the 10th as the founder of the tapas tradition. King Alfonso issued a decree that all tabernas serve a bit of food with each glass of wine.
Derived from the Spanish verb tapar, to cover, a tapa was a savory treat, such as jamon or cheese, placed over the top of a wine glass, protecting it from flies and dust. While no longer required by law, Spaniards have no intention of turning their back on this satisfying and sensible tradition.
A tapeo is a leisurely gastronomic stroll. This tradition of strolling arm-in-arm with a group of friends from tapas bar to tapas bar is a ritual of near-religious importance in a country as social as Spain.
Nibbling from small plates and sipping Spanish wine, the tapeo encourages friends to visit several tabernas (taverns) in a single evening. Each taberna lines platters of tapas along the bar to create an enticing feast and the ideal accompaniment to a glass of juicy Spanish Tempranillo or luscious Garnacha. Now, my friends, we’re talking Tapeña.