On a college campus, students are quick to suggest that life in other countries is far better than life in America. I hear it all the time, whether it’s about healthcare or gun control. While I withhold judgment on these things, I’m more than willing to defend the proposal that life is far better in Spain because of their tapas.
What is a tapa exactly? Well, it’s most comparable to appetizers here in the US, but in Spain an entire meal will often consists of two or three different kinds of tapas, often at different bars. A tapa is a small meal usually consisting of some type of bread–or tostada as they’re referred to in Spain–or meat dish, and it comes with your drink. In some cities in Spain, tapas are even offered for free. Yeah, you read that right, order a two euro glass of wine and get free food with it; it’s absolutely incredible.
On top of being a delicious and cheap way to get a meal, tapas serve a larger purpose as well. In Spain it’s rare to drink for the sake of getting drunk, and tapas can slow that process down. Because I was eating every time I had a glass of wine or beer, I never woke up with those awful hangovers, and tapas are even offered with soda for those who don’t like to drink alcohol but don’t want to miss out on the food. In short, tapas are amazing and delicious, and a country as great as ours deserves the same amazing tapas experience as Spain.
Now, some may tell you that tapas restaurants already exists in the U.S. and that they’ve even been to one before, but I’m here to tell you that no, they haven’t. In Spain there are no tapas restaurants; every restaurant serves tapas, even bars and cafes. Real tapas aren’t small portioned meals that overpriced hipster restaurants serve, they’re a staple of the Spanish diet and the Spanish way of life. If you walk into a restaurant in Spain, and they don’t offer any tapas, then the restaurant was clearly some sort of front for a drug-trafficking business. It made socializing at bars much easier without the pressure of getting too drunk.
Tapas were also a healthy way to get a cheap meal out in Spain. Here in the U.S. there’s a debate raging about why unhealthy food is much cheaper to buy than healthy or organic food for your family, but Spain’s tapas usually consists of vegetables, lean protein and sometimes bread.
In an age of dying social arts, tapas have continued to bring the people of Spain together and encourage them to set down the devices for an hour or two. The entire culture around tapas is one of socializing and being present, one that fosters strong friendships and relationships. Every night out in Spain was a new adventure of trying new tapas and discovering new flavors and restaurants with my friends, all without harming our wallets.
While tapas won’t make the 2016 Presidential Race any better, or solve problems like gun control or healthcare, they can help America come together again and socialize like we did before smart phones. And while we’re doing all that socializing, who knows? Maybe all the other problems can be solved over some amazing Spanish food.
Photo by Emily Miller