As mentioned in my previous post, I was determined to eat as much authentic, traditional Spanish food as possible. This determination allowed me to enjoy plenty of paella, after searching high and low for allergy-friendly paellas. However, my experience with tapas was not quite as successful.
Tapas are a variety of appetisers or snacks, served either hot or cold. The streets of Spain are lined with tapas bars, whose menus tend to have a selection of dozens of different tapas. The typical Spanish way is to order a collection of tapas, to be shared amongst a table, which will often comprise the entire meal. Yet while there is a huge variety of tapas served, due to an extensive display of dietary requirements, this Allergian was greatly limited and unfortunately, my level of experimentation was embarrassingly low.
Reading a list of 15 or so tapas on any given tapas menu, I was only able to order a couple, given the over-representation of fish, seafood and pork. Whilst all looked and sounded excitingly delicious [e.g. Cantabria salted anchovies, steamed mussels, ham croquettes, shrimp torpedos], I was mostly limited to the standard pan con tomate (bread with fresh tomato and oil), patatas bravas (potatoes and sauce, BUT stay tuned for a post about a sneaky nut addition here) and vegetables or salad. I guess that beggars can’t be choosers. Needless to say, for me, tapas didn’t ever comprise of my whole meal and I always needed to also enjoy a little bit extra – cue the paella search!
Our first tapas experience was actually the most exciting – we went to a restaurant on Las Ramblas in Barcelona where, in the excitement of having just landed in Spain, we ordered a set menu – 4 tapas to share, paella and a jug of sangria. Problematically for Allergians, some restaurants do not let you choose your tapas when ordering a set menu. But because of my allergies, the waiter arranged for my tapas to be nut and fish/seafood free. We received some mustard chicken wings, a chickpea salad, a Greek salad and some pork sausages. A good turnout, minus the pork sausages! Unfortunately, I didn’t spot chicken wings on a tapas menu for the rest of my time in Spain. While this may have been a successful tapas experience, I was not quite so lucky for the rest of my tapas searches.
Luckily for my devoted boyfriend (who has had to tolerate my allergies and miss out on exciting food for the past 6 years), my inability to enjoy tapas did not stop him! Whilst tapas are often intended to be shared, the BF frequently does an outstanding job of enjoying the second half of my meal as well as his own when (and by this I mean always) I can’t finish my large meal. But on the other hand… luckily for ME (and I can’t say the same for the BF), I wasn’t “forced” by a waiter to eat a small fish – head, eyes, body and all – while the waiter filmed him on our GoPro. See photo proof below!
Until next time… disfrute de su comida!