Openings and Closings

100 Montaditos Now Open at City Place in West Palm Beach

Tapas, the art of dishing out small plates, has become a popular concept in the U.S., with bars and restaurants springing up in cities across the nation dishing out their own version of a sharing menu. However, most Americans don't know the history of tapas -- exactly how, and why, the tiny dishes originated.

Many historians believe tapas began as a way for Spanish farmers and field workers to stay nourished during the long work day, taking small meals accompanied by wine or drink every few hours. In modern Spain, tapas are seldom served without alcohol, and are not meant to be a meal in themselves. Likewise, there are no tapas restaurants -- only tapas bars, encouraging a culture of "tapeo" where people meet and mingle to enjoy drink and food in a lively atmosphere.

Although tapas can literally be any type of food, in Spain not all tapas are created equal. The way the food is served and presented, as well as the type of ingredients used, determine whether or not the fare is considered a tapa (snack), pintxo (food on a stick), racion (dish), plato (main plate) or montadito (food served on bread).

See also: Make a Pitcher of 100 Montaditos Sangria For Your July Fourth Picnic

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Nicole Danna is a Palm Beach County-based reporter who began covering the South Florida food scene for New Times in 2011. She also loves drinking beer and writing about the area's growing craft beer community.
Contact: Nicole Danna