|Corin, Santi, Maria, Christine, and Pepe at our |
vegetarian tapas party, May 27, 2013
Going out for tapas and pinchos is part of everyday life in Spain. These culinary delights are miniature works of art; colorful and creative with seemingly endless possibilities for food combinations in a small space. They're also delicious. There is one disadvantage: They tend not to be very vegetarian-friendly.
First, some terminology: Tapas are very small snacks, often served on a toothpick. Many bars give them away free with a drink. Pinchos are like tapas, but a bit bigger and more elaborate. They cost about 2 euros each.
|pinchos at Casa Lita|
For more on the different categories of vegetarianism, here's a good website.
Corin and I usually start by asking which tapas are made with seafood, but this approach can be problematic because many fish-based pinchos also include ham or bacon. Since it's often hidden under the fish, we always have to ask for a detailed ingredient list. This presents a challenge in noisy tapas bars, especially when the ingredients include words we don't know. Adding another layer of complication is the issue of what 'counts' as meat, which seems to be a bit different here. I've had friends and bartenders earnestly explain to me that morcilla (blood sausage) is vegetarian because 'there's no meat in it, only fat.'
|pinchos at Casa Lita|
When Christine came to Spain, it was a challenge to find pinchos for her. There is only so much tortilla de patata and bread/cheese combinations a person can eat! But, like me, she loved the idea of pinchos and the possibilities they presented.
Because of the appeal of pinchos combined with the difficulty of finding many that met our dietary requirements, we decided to go out to a few tapas bars, study the various designs, and then create our own vegetarian versions at home.
|the research continues at Machichaco el Machi|
So, strictly for research purposes, we visited several tapas bars including Machichacho el Machi (left) and Casa Lita on the bay, both favorites with the locals. We then came up with some ideas and went to Corin's favorite shop, El Corte Ingles, to get supplies.
We started with crackers and small pieces of bread, then added a variety of toppings. Christine took these wonderful pictures of the final results: our special pinchos, inspired by the tapas bars of Santander but adapted for vegetarians.
The only thing left to do was invite some friends; luckily, I have three who live on the very next street. They brought wine, and, alors! A vegetarian pincho party!
|OK for pescatarians: red peppers, bonito, and caramelized onions|
|Caprese tapas: Toast, pesto, mozzarella, and tomatoes|
|An English favorite: Jacobs cream crackers, cheddar cheese, and Branston pickle|
|Goat's cheese with red peppers, caramelized onions, and chives|
|Avocado, tomato, and chives|
|Eggs with alioli, chives, and spears of asparagus|
|Selection of pinchos with a glass of Lambrusco|
Thanks to Christine and Corin for all the creative input and helping with the preparations! And thanks to our Spanish friends Maria, Pepe, and Santi, experienced tapas eaters and non-vegetarians, for coming to share them with us.
If this inspires you to try other vegetarian cooking, here's a link to Christine's highly recommended vegetarian cooking blog, ciao veggie
|Guests have just arrived...9 p.m., the eating time in Spain!|
|Taking pinchos home: Santi and Maria|