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by / Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tomato Bread (Tapas)

Tomato Bread (Tapas) | www.girlichef.com
One of the things that fascinates me the most about any subject, is history...roots...origin. Learning about a culture through its traditions. Finding out how a person or a place got its name. Reading about how a food or dish "came to be". I thrive on that stuff.

So, while I was already familiar with Tapas, when they were named our theme for this week's edition of Sunday Supper, I decided to dive a little deeper and find its roots.

Sure, I knew that tapas stemmed from the word tapar, meaning "to cover". I knew that they were "small plates" and that they are normally associated with Spain. I knew that they were normally served as a bite or two alongside alcohol. I knew that just thinking about them makes me long for a glass of sherry in my hand, just so that I could eat some serrano ham along with it. And I don't even drink plain sherry.

You probably knew all of these things, too. And if that's all you wanted to know, then you can go ahead and skip down to the recipe for one of the most common, most simple, and most utterly delicious tapa around - Tomato Bread. Or, you can stick around for a few more paragraphs and learn some fun facts about the "possible" origins of tapas!

First of all, I love that tapas encourage conversation and socialization. They're customarily eaten while standing up and encourage mingling. Which supports the theory of Spanish bars serving small plates. Patrons would set their plate on top of their drinks (hence, cover or top) while standing.
Tomato Bread (Tapas) | www.girlichef.com
There are also stories telling that when a glass of wine or sherry was ordered in very sandy Adalucia region of Spain, the bartender covered the glass with a slice of cured ham before serving it, to protect the drink from getting sand in it. Of course, the next drink was ordered "with the cover". I don't doubt that, because who could resist that once they've tried it? And the rest was history...

Along the same lines, are the tales of things like cards (not tasty, but) and bread being placed on top of a drink to protect it from fruit flies. This practice just became habit.

There are also stories of shady tavern owners covering glasses of cheap wine with slices of strong, stinky cheeses to disguise the cheap wine they were serving. They were "covering" in more ways than one. Not cool man, not cool. But on the other hand - cheese!

There are more tales on the possible origins of "tapas", but those are my favorites.

Tomato Bread (Tapas)
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Tomato Bread (Tapas) | www.girlichef.com
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Keywords: appetizer snack vegan soy-free nut-free sugar-free dairy-free bread garlic tomatoes Spanish

Ingredients (varies)
  • loaf of crusty bread, a baguette, or similar good bread
  • olive oil
  • whole garlic cloves, peeled & split in half lengthwise
  • whole ripe tomatoes
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper




Instructions
Preheat a grill, grill pan, or broiler. Cut the bread into approximately 1/2-inch thick slices.

Brush each side with a little bit of olive oil. Grill both sides for a couple of minutes, until golden grill marks form; if using a broiler, broil each side until it just turns golden and a bit crisp.

Rub each half with the cut side of a clove of garlic. Cut the tomato in half crosswise, and then rub it all over one side of the bread, as well. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil to finish, if you like.

Enjoy this simple delight.
Tomato Bread (Tapas) | www.girlichef.com



Heather is a Michiana-based food, drink, and travel writer with a fondness for garlic, freshly baked bread, stinky cheese, dark beer, and Mexican food—who believes that immersing herself in different cultures one bite at a time is the best path to enlightenment.

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