Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The story of Paella and Tapas

During the dine-out with the International in Vancouver Social Meetup Group at La Bodega on Saturday, our server popped by to check on us once our group paella order had come out. She offered to tell us the story of how paella ("for the lady") came to be:

Once upon a time, a beautiful princess was in love with a farmer, but forced to wed someone else. The farmer loved her and would have given her the world, but he was poor. He was a fabulous cook, however, and created this dish for her. In it, he put "the world" -- foods from the field, the land, and the sea (vegetables, meat, shellfish) -- as well as his heart, represented by slices of bright red peppers.

In our group we also had a young Spanish lady. She wasn't able to confirm the server's story of paella, but she offered to tell us the story of how tapas came to be:

In the distant past, there were occasionally flies in restaurants. To protect glasses of wine from flies, people would put small saucers over them. Much later, when hygiene had improved and flies were no longer a problem, this tradition endured. Since it no longer had a real function and looked boring, someone came up with the bright idea of putting food on the saucers -- with the aim that food would also encourage patrons to drink more. It worked, and to this day (except in some parts of northern Spain), tapas is free as long as you buy drinks. The better the drink (not just alcohol), the better the tapas offered to you.

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