Albuquerque is considered the home of Flamenco, and those tapping feet are catering to American appetites. Tapas, however, are small plates of food; if you get enough to eat, you will usually rack up a large bill.
We began our experience of tapas in Spain, suitably enough. We were at a James Joyce conference being held in Seville – because Molly Bloom’s mother was born in Gibraltar.
And why not? All JJ conferences take place in glamorous places with some connection (at times dubious) to JJ’s writings; this was no exception. Read Ulysses.
Except that we didn’t stay in Seville, but about twenty kilometers south in a town called Utrera with the family of a former student of H’s. We commuted on a little train into Seville.
As we didn’t get back until about 10pm the first evening, we thought they would have eaten supper already so we’d better have something before going to the house. We sat watching couples stroll by the cafe as we nibbled on a few very small plates of very small foods – you can’t expect me to remember what we ate, can you? I think one was potatoes.
But when we got home at 10:30, the teenaged son was just tossing the salad for dinner. Spanish-time! Our tapas were just appetizers.
The next time we ordered tapas was here in Albuquerque at the appropriately named Ibiza Cafe, and sorry, I can’t remember what we ate here either. It was H’s birthday dinner and again consisted of small (expensive) plates of food. Well, that is what tapas menus usually offer, don’t they?
So with these experiences in mind, we chose four different tapas to share at the M’Tucci’s Cantina at the National Hispanic Cultural Center the other evening. We were amazed to have the dishes cover the table. H said “These are the biggest tapas we’ve ever seen” and the manager explained, “We cater for American appetites.” Would we have ordered less if we had known?
There’s a saying “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” but in this case we finished everything put before us without much difficulty; seafood ceviche, crab & spinach dip, steak kebabs, and two large empanadas. What a feast.
These tapas, we decided, were the right size for us, and we’ll be tapping our feet over to the Cantina before long for another “big plate” or four.