Traveling brings you closer to humanity. You get to see people outside of your culture and hopefully you expand your little box of understanding the world a bit more. The more you travel the better the box you are in gets and the more engaged you are while traveling leads to better experiences. That’s why I love tapas bars in Madrid.
In other restaurants you sit at a table and formally eat. In a tapas bar, one you are in a bar, you generally are standing or resting your butt on a barstool and it is usually crowded. It is crowded because it is small. How many people can you fit into a small area? A tapas bar owner is an expert.
Cleanliness isn’t really a priority. I don’t mean this badly. Wipe your mouth with a napkin and then throw it on the floor. Then remember we are in a bar. There will be beer spilled.
And there are no decisions to be made. When you go to a regular bar: what kind of beer do you want, what do you want to eat. No.. not in a tapas bar. You want beer, you get a beer. You MIGHT be able to say what size. If you want wine, you get red. Maybe white. and then you get what you get when they give you the food. Generally the more beer you order the better the food.
First round is chips, second olives, then maybe potato, etc. I mean, you can order food in some places but that defeats the purpose of letting someone give you a little food. If you want to order food, go to a restaurant. Unless of course, you are done drinking and just want more food. But even then, get going so someone else can have your space at the bar. (did I mention the good tapas bars are packed?)
So, the hubs and I are in a a tapas bar in Madrid on our last trip. He loves Spanish tortilla. He asks the very angry looking owner if he can have a very small slice. She tells him “no, slices come in one size only”. Now if you don’t know what Spanish tortilla is, you basically make a cake using sliced potatoes and eggs. If you were in a bakery and said you want a small slice, they’d probably smile and think of the amount of money they were saving.
The angry woman only wanted to sell one size – large. We hate wasting food.
Then we saw her take the customer’s uneaten olives and put them back in the main jar. Glad we didn’t get the slice. Ugh.
But my point is that you cannot go imposing rules in a place that is by its nature supposed to be casual and laid back. She lost money that day. She could have charged the hubs a full amount and had extra to give someone else. Or she could have just given him a small sliver that he wanted. Rather she drove us away.
If you find yourself in Madrid in a tapas bar with an owner that won’t compromise on a slide of tortilla, remember not to eat the olives either.
BTW… When I got home, I made a delicious one for us. It was really easy to make and the hubs gobbled it up. I even cut him small slices to eat :).