Lets get spiritual. A derivation from the word root ‘tap’ -meaning ‘heat’ (which depending on context) either from fire,weather, pain,penance,suffering – Tapas means deep meditation,reasoned self discipline and effort to achieve self-realization, sometimes involving solitude. Well for all you Adam Levine fans he’s got it inked on his chest as well. While were still spiritually inclined, my recent visit to Martins in Margao was the need of the hour. I had to quell the ‘heat’ stroked & flamed up playfully by Cassy Martins over a phone call a few weeks earlier, scrumptiously describing ideas for his new menu.Of course he was referring to a wide variety of appetizers of the Spanish cuisine he had concocted for the meal.
12 days later (yes I counted in anticipation) and my meditation and self disciplines paid off when a few traveller friends and yours truly made our way down south for a feast in waiting.
The word “tapas” is derived from the Spanish verb tapar, “to cover”. This is a culinary design cleverly conceived to encourage conversation, because people are not really focused on eating an entire meal that is set before them- Brilliant!!! Multiple pro’s, very little on the downside. Ever wonder now how those Spanish footballers remain so fit and taut? Eat less (smart), play more. On my trip to Seville its tradition like for people to finish work an head to a tapas bar to socialize (no facebook & mobile phones are not part of the deal…human conversations are call of the hour) right before supper time. Tapas can be consumed hot or cold, a favorite comes to mind; ‘chopitos‘-(batter fried crunchy baby squid) with the ever-versatile Torres Viña Sol and i’m yours- in food heaven. (Earth calling Nolan!! Come back to the tapas at hand please…)
There are several theories to the etymology of the name. Though the primary meaning of tapa is cover or lid the most commonly cited explanation is that an item, be it bread or a flat card, etc., would often be placed on top of a drink to protect it from fruit flies that were a common menace; at some point it became a habit to top this “cover” with a snack. Another theory states that since one would be standing while eating a tapa in traditional Spanish bars, they would need to place their plates on top of their drinks to eat, making it a top. A few scholars mention a final possibility surrounding King Felipe III, who passed a law in an effort to curb rowdy drunken behavior, particularly among soldiers and sailors. (The hope being that the food would slow the effects of the alcohol, and fill the stomach to prevent over imbibing.)
Accompanied by world travelers from the land down under (Australia) & West ( San Francisco) were the ‘Foodie Fernandes’ brothers each with their own background to good food and hospitality. ‘Chorizo’ was a vital showcase and part of the menu sans dessert (thank god for small mercies)
The Chicken & Chorizo Meatball with Ratatouille hit the spot on all fours. After all who doesnt love their meatballs? But meatballs with a twist, now that was something to pine for especially with perfect European blended cues from various countries (Spain,France,Italy). Chicken mince with a seasoning of celery,parsley and garlic slow cooked with goan handmade chorizo mixed with smoked paprika imported directly from the Extramudra region (South Madrid).This chorizo is oak smoked before cooked so as to get a distinct woody pipe flavor hidden in their notes. No doubt a tastier, healthier and gourmet version of a chorizo for sure (given the preservatives used in cured chorizos these days). All this ladelled in Ratatouille sauce (Yes the same one Remy the mouse cooked up in Pixar’s classic Ratatouille)
Another item one has to try (appetite allowing) is the Chicken breast stuffed with house chorizo & extract sauce. Nothing fancy but oh so plenty in flavor. A simple breast marination with a secret sauce (unfortunately the chef is not at liberty to share that recipe without having to kill you post) and seasoned with thyme, parsley, rosemary with drizzles of olive oil and chorizo extract sauce.
Accompanied with a fine glass of bubbly Sangria (a unique twist by mixing champagne, green apple and some fine red wine) cleansed each morsel sampled only to ask for more. All in all a fine evening of good food, tales from across the world and multiple cups of hot water. To get your cravings on a shoe string budget allow the Martin brothers to bring Spain right to your backyard. (of course the other alternative is to head to Spain itself)
Dios te bendiga!! (God Bless you)
Chicken & Chorizo Meatball with Ratatouille sauce Pic courtesy: Nolan Mascarenhas Photography