Every country seems to have a culinary specialty, some dish or food item they are especially fond of and where everyone in the country makes their version of it.
Here in Spain it is no different and the food that makes this list is Tapas. Tapas can best be described as sample dishes of specialties. Tapas can be made up of seafood; salad; sausages or cheeses. They are served either hot or cold and can even include paella, Spain’s most famous contribution to world cuisine. Every bar and restaurant in Spain seems to have a Tapas menu. Tapas are served as less of a meal but more than an appetizer. It is not uncommon for scores of people to go out late at night after a movie or a show and hit a bar to get a drink, usually beer or wine here in Spain, and then to order a tapas or two.
Here in Torrevieja we are in the middle of a Tapas Crawl, otherwise known as the 10th Annual Ruta de la Tapa. They hold this competition to see which bar or restaurant has the best Tapas in this region of Spain. This year 56 bars and restaurants joined in on the fun. To enter this competition your selections have to first be approved by a committee. Each restaurant chooses two areas of specialty; there is the standard tapas and gourmet tapas.
Contest dates are April 3 through 6 and then again from April 10 to 13. The bars and restaurants serve their Tapas from noon to 16:30 and from 19:30 to 23:00 on these days. This makes it easy on everyone interested in partaking since the hours are the same in all establishments and the only thing different will be what is offered. Each participating restaurant will also have two different Tapas to offer for each of the two weekends; so what they serve April 3 to 6 is not the same offering as April 10 to 13 so you can go back to the same place twice and order different Tapas.
A standard tapas order comes with a drink, again usually a beer, offered for only two Euros and gourmet tapas and drink is offered for 2.50 Euros. In a country where the unemployment rate is still the highest in the EU and where many people cannot afford to make their mortgage or utility payments eating Tapas for a euro or two is the cheapest thing to do here.
For the current competition there is a staggering 220 different Tapas being placed on offer. You literally can eat your way from one Tapas bar to another; in fact this is what is expected. If you eat no less than 10 Tapas you are allowed to vote for the best in Torrevieja (you will have your Tapas passport stamped in every place that you go in order for your vote to count).
Tapas are available all year round in Spain. You would be hard pressed to visit a bar or a restaurant which did not have a Tapas menu so coming here at anytime means you can create your own Tapas Crawl. However there is something to be said for getting to actually vote for the best Tapas in Torrevieja. So forgive me as I leave you because, “there is more Tapas to go before I sleep…” (My apologies to Robert Frost).