In a previous post, I touched on the anomaly that is the Spanish diet. In summary, in the region I was in, it consists mainly of potatoes, eggs, jamón, and too much mayonnaise mixed with ketchup as well as croquetas, tortilla, and way too many french fries. The baffling part is that no one is fat.
Eating is not necessarily about getting necessary vitamins or minerals, but rather sitting with your family or friends and recounting the day, talking (or shouting) about politics and current events, gossiping, and just spending time with each other.
I recently found this article that perfectly reflected these sentiments. It is a comical article entitled “How to Know if you’re Actually Eating Tapas”. The qualifications refer in part to the food (small plates or raciones to share) and quality of the food (simple, not highly seasoned, no focus on presentation, lots of potatoes), but more to the situation and atmosphere.
As far as atmosphere: there should be no qualms about throwing napkins onto the ground (or weird, make-shift metal gutters under the bar), and you may bump your head on a pigs leg hanging from the ceiling. The people around you should be grumpy all men who would walk like this:
The waiters should be curt, and you should be surrounded by a large group of friends that only gets larger over the course of the night.
This article is mostly written tongue in cheek, and there were actually many negative comments (which really shocked me because after living in Spain for five months, I laughed and nodded along with each and every point the author made). Some said it was an “over the top” analysis, some said it was condescending, some said it was an “anglophile interpretation”, and some said it was absolutely accurate.
Regardless, I think it is very telling that the definition of “tapas”, which is just often how the Spanish eat dinner daily, includes much more than just the food. They acknowledge that the meal is about the experience: the ambiance, the company, the conversation (and volume level)- not just the actual food consumed.