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Spain’s Great Cover-Up

The word tapas is derived from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover,”or “to top.” Originally,tapas were small slices of bread, jamon or chorizo which Sherry drinkers in Andalusian taverns used to cover their glasses between sips. If nothing else, this was a practical way to prevent fruit flies from hovering over the Sherry. Because both jamon and chorizo are salty, they make you thirsty. Thus, bar owners began to create a variety of tapas to serve alongside Sherry, increasing their sales. It helped, of course, that the first real meal of the Spanish day—lunch—usually isn’t served until 2 or 3 in the afternoon, guaranteeing that just about everyone would be ready for tapas (and Sherry!) by 11 in the morning.

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