Tapas, Raciones y Clara con limon … with Spanish faux-pas included

I love Shandy Carib, it is one of things in Trinidad that stuck with me and as a Trini, a mixture of beer and juice or soda is a “Shandy” to me, in fact Sorrel Shandy is one of the greatest things invented by man. In Madrid, one of the things to do is going for Tapas.

Tapas are the (sometimes free) little side dishes received with a drink order from a bar. Free tapas one can get include potato chips, green olives, small bits of rabbit with garbanzo beans, and a large bowl of snails cooked in a tomato sauce. Tapas can also be ordered off the menu and are often a better buy than the “raciones”.

Thankfully, my Madrileña hosts know some great Tapas Bars and the choice for tonight was 29 Fanegas. As part of the authentic Tapas experience, at any popular Tapas establishment, you have to stand around waiting for a table, eating Aceitunas and Cebollas or some variant of this. Another different thing is that when you get to the bars in Madrid, it turns out that the thing they serve with beer is green olives with pits, while in Canada/US, we get nuts or pretzels. I wondered what to do with the pits — the answer is that you throw them on the floor. Also when having a meal in Spain, you’re expected to take your bread and put it on the table, and the crumbs are to be left all over the table. It is a faux pas to toss sugar on the table to make a bigger mess on the table … only crumbs are allowed but putting anything else on the table is considered quite gauche.

While waiting, you’re expected to have some beer. All the draft beer is better than all the bottled beer. This means that the standard way of ordering a beer is somewhat incorrect.  If you ask for “una cerveza”, they will give you a bottle of beer. In order to get a draft beer, ask for “una caña”. This will usually get you 6 or 10 ounces. To get a half-liter, try saying “una caña grande”. That being said, after ordering “una caña”, I found that the beer was extremely bitter and reminscent of grass and hops. To combat this bitter taste, Madrileños order “Clara con limon” which is draft beer with sparkling lemonade. As Shandy loving Trini, I really preferred this drink to the plain draft that I initially had 🙂

About Rishiray

Rishi Sankar is a Cloud HRMS Project Manager/ Solution Architect. Over the past 15+ years, he has managed to combine his overwhelming wanderlust with a desire to stay employed, resulting in continuing stints with 3 major consulting firms (IBM, Deloitte, Accenture). He documents his adventures around the world on "Ah Trini Travelogue" with pictures and stories from the road/tuk-tuk/camel/rickshaw. You can follow him on Twitter at @rishiray and on Facebook at "Ah Trini Travelogue . He doesn't like Chicken Curry but loves Curry Chicken and is always trying to find the perfect Trinidadian roti on the road. He also doesn't like cheese and kittens ... and definitely not together. E-mail from his blog is appreciated like a 35 yr old Balvenie at rishi@rishiray.com

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