A tapa in Spain is essentially a small portion of food served in bars and restaurants with a drink. Usually Spanish people go to a bar and have a drink with a tapa and move to a different one. This itinerant consumption (local, consumption and new local) is called tapeo, or tapas. In many regions of Spain it is quite common dining out or eating on weekends based on tapeo, a way of eating usually referred to as “picar” or “picoteo” picking.
“Tapas” are part of the Spanish lifestyle and are offered at banquets to the highest dignitaries (in so-called tapas meeting). In select bars in Spain, tapas have evolved into an entire and sophisticated cuisine.
It is often argued that the etymological origin of the word “tapa” – lid in English – comes from the ancient custom of covering “tapar in Spanish” the cups and glasses of wine in taverns and inns with a piece of bread or a slice of ham to prevent flies and mosquitoes from entering inside.