Brandade, AOC, Los Angeles
(photo courtesy Aaron Cook).
Tapas have an interesting history, distinguished not only by their longevity — some culinary accounts trace tapas as far back as before the nineteenth century — but also by the fact that this dining tradition grew out of a simple gesture by a scrupulous barkeep. To keep dust and flies kicked up in a roadside taverna from getting into a glass of sherry, servers would cover the wine with a slice of bread. Topped then with a small slice of salty cheese, sausage or ham, the “lid” (tapa comes from the verb tapar, “to cover”) would be eaten by the patron, perhaps inducing him to order another one.
And so a distinct Spanish culinary tradition was born, as bar owners found that tapas possess an attraction all their own and began to expand the variety they offered. While there are standard tapas offerings such as Marcona almonds, olives, tortilla espa