Brought to you by Cape Town Fish Market
Though Spain is the country best known for tapas, the origin of this style of eating is up for debate. The Telegraph notes several tales about where tapas began, but the most common one seems to be a humble story. It goes that bartenders in Spain covered their patrons’ glasses with a piece of bread or ham in order to prevent flies from entering, hence the name ‘tapa’, which in Spanish means ‘to cover’. Proving popular with customers, the offering increased to include items like ham, olives and cheese.
This style of enjoying small, shared plates has been popular worldwide for a couple of years – and it’s not going anywhere. According to studies conducted by market researchers Mintel, many restaurants use the word tapas deliberately to draw in customers. But why is it still a trend?
Prior to the proliferation of tapas, the best way to explore more of a restaurant’s menu was either to order a few appetisers or to eat off your friends’ plates. A tapas offering provides a way for several different flavours and ingredients to be shown off by the kitchen. Even better? There’s no need to spend half an hour forcing yourself to decide between your top three choices. Get them all!
According to Time, sharing food actually makes you a better person. In a study published in Appetite, those who had shared meals more frequently in childhood scored better for altruistic behaviours, such as giving directions to strangers, offering their seats on public transportation, helping their friends move, and volunteering. Tapas might be Spanish in origin, but South Africans are equally renowned for their love of communally shared food – just think of shisa nyama and braai. Sharing food starts conversations at the table, so even the friend who rarely speaks might be pulled into the debate about whether the carpaccio is better than the poké bowl. Tapas can bring different groups together with the least amount of awkwardness.
Tapas restaurants are more popular than ever because their constantly changing menus challenge us to try something different every time we visit instead of slipping into a routine. Also, you’re assured of getting the freshest and best ingredients on the day, as chefs will shake things up in order to take advantage of seasonal ingredients.
At one time or another we’ve all spent a meal eyeballing the infinitely better-looking plate across from us. Sharing plates means sharing any disappointments, and begrudgingly sharing the terrific dishes as well. (Just go ahead and order another one.) Since all the dishes belong to everyone, tapas dishes effectively give us permission to eat off our neighbours’ plates shamelessly.
The cousin of food envy is the risky choice. Yes, the new special sounds delicious, but what if it’s terrible and you end up regretting not going for your trusty favourite? Ordering a selection of small plates removes most of that pressure of commitment.
We live in the Instagram age, which means a dish is far more likely to go viral if it looks photogenic and delicious – even if doesn’t deliver. Tapas is a great solution, as bite-sized versions of dishes are far more likely to go up on the ’gram, especially if they’re surrounded by a variety of other pretty plates, textures and colours.
Brought to you by Cape Town Fish Market
The first Cape Town Fish Market opened its doors almost 20 years ago, when restaurateur Douw Krugmann purchased a fresh fish store at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. Today, CTFM is proud to have 12 locations across South Africa, as well as one in Tanzania. It is a restaurant built on fresh ingredients, a relaxing atmosphere, and, most of all, great-tasting seafood and sushi. CTFM has also expanded its tapas selection to include new small plates like tuna ceviche, lamb croquettes, grilled oysters and beef ribs. View the full menu on the CTFM website and find out more on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.