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Pre and Post Cruise or Land Vacations To Barcelona
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Prevalent in all of Spain, it’s near impossible to travel here without trying a meal of Barcelona tapas. But, as with any country proud of its cuisine, there is an art to properly savoring the dishes and delicacies.

This isn’t appetizers in America: you’re not buttering your bread here, and you’re not scoffing down a plate of sliders in anticipation for the main course. For an idea of what else is different, as well as what all you should order, read on for a crash course in the art of enjoying tapas.

CULTURAL DIFFERENCES IN DINING
First and foremost: Spain operates on a different time table when it comes time to eat. Dinner occurs late—crowds don’t start arriving until 9 p.m. This distinction is critical: having dinner at a restaurant at 6 or 7 p.m. means that they’re specifically open to cater to tourists, aka your meal is likely to be some degree of inauthentic.

Equally important to understand is the pacing of the meal: eating in Spain is an unhurried endeavor—a time to socialize, a time to savor morsel-sized delicacies, the epitome of living in the moment. As such, you’re not ordering all the dishes at once. Order a few plates a time, take your time enjoying them, and discuss with your table what the next round of tapas should be. The meal is about the journey, not the destination.

CAN’T-MISS DISHES
With the near-limitless options available, you can spend hours deliberating over the menu and still not know for certain what sounds the tastiest. For a good starting point, you can’t go wrong with some of these Barcelona tapas classics:

Patatas bravas – Potatoes cut into cubes, fried, and served with a drizzling of an unspecified sauce. Think of this as the regal (classy) big brother to American cheese fries.
Croquetas – A fried fritter filled with variations and combinations of cheese and meat. As savory as it is simple.

Pa amb Tomàquet – Bread, slathered with garlic and tomato and then seasoned with olive oil and salt, maybe a pinch of pepper. If you want to get fancy, stack various cheeses and slices of meat on top.
Chipirones – A quick glance may lead you to believe that this is actually just calamari, but you would be mistaken: chipirones are baby squid and very small cuttlefish, battered and deep-fried. A subtle difference, leading to intense debate as to which is more delicious.

Mató – Unsalted goat cheese accompanied with honey and walnuts—a feel-good dessert.

Paella – Maybe not a tapa as you’d imagine it, but the gist is the same: delicious food you share with the table. A shallow (yet large) pan filled with decadently seasoned rice, seafood and meat. The presentation is as much a work of art as the flavor.

THESE BARCELONA TAPAS PAIR PERFECTLY WITH…
While wine and beer pairings with meals are prevalent in all of Spain, pay attention to what the locals order! If it’s not a Spanish wine, it’s an indirect insult to the country. Also, as delicious as sangria may be, locals often opt for lighter wines with tapas—a cava (the Spanish equivalent to a champagne) or a vermouth are the usual go-to’s, as red wines tend to dominate taste buds. Keep it light, preferably chilled, and you’ll be perfectly prepped to make the most of your tapas’ flavors.

Looking to land in Barcelona and commence sampling every dish they offer? Speak with one of our travel agents. Not only can they offer exclusive insights, thanks to their unparalleled knowledge and expertise, but their close relationships to industry-leading cruise lines like Crystal Cruises enable you to sample all of Europe with utter ease on your journey, tapas-style.