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What is Spanish Tapas? Is it the same as Pintxos?

a variety of spanish tapas dishes

Spanish tapas are small plates of food typically served throughout Spain, allowing diners to sample various dishes over the course of a meal. The word “tapas” actually comes from the Spanish word “tapar,” which means “to cover,” and the tradition of serving tapas started as a way to cover drinks with small plates of food to keep the flies out.

Some popular tapas dishes include (but are not limited to):

  • Patatas bravas (fried potatoes with a spicy tomato sauce),
  • Croquetas (deep-fried bites filled with ham or cheese),
  • Tortilla española (a type of omelet with potatoes and onions),
  • Gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp),
  • and more.

Is Spanish Tapas the same as Pintxos?

Pintxos (pronounced “peen-chos”) are a type of small snack or appetizer that are very similar to Spanish tapas. However, pintxos are traditionally associated with the Basque Country in northern Spain, and they are typically served on a small slice of bread and held together with a toothpick or skewer. These delicacies are meant to be bite-sized snacks eaten with drinks.

One of the unique aspects of pintxos culture is the tradition of “txikiteo,” which involves moving from bar to bar in the Basque Country to enjoy pintxos (small snacks) and drinks (a small glass of wine or beer known as a “txikito” or “zurito”) with friends or family. It is a social activity that often takes place in the early evening or on weekends, and it is a great way to experience the local cuisine and culture.

The practice is an opportunity to catch up with friends, meet new people, and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the Basque Country’s bars and streets. In some bars, pintxos are displayed on the counter, and customers simply help themselves and pay by the number of toothpicks on their plate. The tradition is particularly popular in cities like San Sebastian and Bilbao, where there are many excellent bars and pintxos to sample.

Some popular pintxos toppings include (but are not limited to):

Today, both tapas and pintxos have become an important part of Spanish cuisine and culture. They can be made with a wide variety of delicious ingredients, including cured meats, seafood, vegetables, fried dishes, cheeses, and more.

Have you had the pleasure of experiencing Spanish tapas and pintxos? What do you think? Which dishes did you try? Which were your favorites? Let us know in the comments!

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