If I could have it my way, I'd never eat another balanced meal. Full meals often overwhelm me. Why? Because I'm a picker, a snacker, a nibbler, a grazer. Because I prefer having several small servings of food spread out over the course of a day rather than restricting myself to "three square meals."
When I was offered the opportunity to review The Book of Tapas by Simone and Inés Ortega (Phaidon Press - June 2010), I enthusiastically accepted. Tapas, described by José Andrés in his Introduction as "little plates of this and that, which are enjoyed in bars all over Spain" are right up my alley. Almost any food or dish could be labeled a tapa as long as the portion remains small. Since eating tapas doesn't involve a formal meal structure, you're free to eat as much, or as little, as you want -- you can taste as you go! The small portions allow you to try new foods without feeling anxiety about potentially wasting food if you decide you don't like the taste or texture of something. And, if you do discover something you like, you can order more of it.
But what do you do when you're in charge of the menu? How do you begin choosing the dishes to serve at the tapas party you're throwing for your friends or family? How do you know whether you're choosing something that's authentically Spanish in flavor?
Start with The Book of Tapas.
Not only will you find over 250 recipes within its covers, but you'll also find a list of Spanish ingredients to use as a reference while shopping for the appropriate foods and spices in the market. Each chapter is dedicated to an ingredient category (Vegetables, Eggs and Cheese, Fish, and Meat), which is then, in turn, separated into hot dishes and cold dishes. With so many options, the likelihood of duplicating a menu is slim. Each and every tapas menu that you create will be unique.
If I were throwing a tapas party, here's what I might serve:
- Alcachofas Rehogadas - Fried Artichokes, p. 70
- Flan de Puerros - Leek Flan, p. 97
- Ensalada de Huevos de Codorniz - Quails' Egg Salad, p. 143
- Palitos de Queso al Horno - Baked Cheese Sticks, p. 148
- Salteado de Bogavante - Lobster Fricassee, p. 252
- Pinchos de Mejillones, Bacon y Champiñones - Mussel, Bacon and Mushroom Pinchos, p. 275
- Bolitas de Melón con Jamon - Melon Balls with Ham, p. 326
- Patatas con Chorizo - Potatoes with Chorizo, p. 340
And, although not exactly "authentic," I'd have to serve my Quick and Easy White Sangria as a refreshing accompaniment to all of that food!
From the incredibly varied recipes to the gorgeous photographs, The Book of Tapas is one of those books that I can't help but flip through continually. When I finally do get around to throwing that tapas party, I know where I'll be going first.
Taste As You Go Disclaimer: I was provided with the opportunity to read/review this book at no cost to me. I do not accept monetary compensation for writing about my experiences or my thoughts. All opinions expressed are my own.