The history and origin of Spanish Tapas originated in Andalucia, a southern province of Spain. The word “tapa” translates as “cover”. Tapas traditionally may have been a complementary piece of sliced ham served on top of a glass of wine, but we know them today as small portions of food commonly served as a snack before lunch or dinner. Tapas can be as simple as a bowl olives or more hearty, such as slices of Serrano ham.
The tapa was born when, due to an illness, the Spanish King Alfonso X, the Wise, had to take small bites of food with some wine between meals. Once recovered from the disease, the wise King, decreed that no wine was to be served in any of the Inns in the land of Castile, unless accompanied by something to eat. This was a wise precaution to counteract the adverse effects of alcohol on those people who could not afford to buy a nourishing meal and drink alcohol at the same time.