Week 13: Pinchos y Tapas

When you order a drink in some restaurants in the United States, you get a bowl of chips or some peanuts. What you’re given is never especially exciting or complex – it’s just a snack. In Austurias, they take their “snacks” much more seriously. Here, they’re called pinchos or tapas, and are small dishes that come with your drink. On your average day, you can tapear (a verb that literally means “to eat as a tapa”) a mini tortilla Española (potato and egg dish), some bread and chorizo (Spanish sausage), or even a slice of pizza just buy ordering a coke in a few different places. The weeks of the Campeonato de Pinchos y Tapas (literally the Championship of Pinchos and Tapas), it’s even better!

During this time, restaurants and bars across Asturias create special dishes to be tested by the public, judged by a jury, and (hopefully) awarded a prize in one of the categories. There are prizes for best taste, best appearance, and even most unique flavor. Needless to say, it’s a pretty big deal 🙂

Fortunately for me, I had two amazing friends – Yasmin and Carol – to show me around. Both have lived in Oviedo for all of their lives, so they knew exactly how to make the most of this event! The first thing we did was grab a map (yep – there’s actually a map that shows all of the restaurants and bars that are participating), and decide on the best course of action. There were almost 200 of participants across multiple cities in Asturias, so we had to be organized. In the end, we hit three cities and tried way too many tapas and pinchos! We ate some of them before I could get a picture (oops) but I’ve included photos of some of the most delicious – and most confusing – snacks that we tried. I’m still waiting to find out the official winners, but if La Pizza Para Comer Con Chuchara (Pizza You Eat with a Spoon), doesn’t at least win something, I’ll be severely disappointed.

Until next time,

Megan

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The official championship banner, courtesy of http://mas.lne.es/concursos/pinchos-tapas-asturias/
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The verb “tapear” in use in the streets of Oviedo
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The first tapa we tried – a burger with an unidentifiable sauce. It was excellent, and a great way to start off.
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“La Pizza Para Comer con Cuchara”, “The Pizza to Eat with a Spoon”. It was one of the strangest things we ate, but it got major points for creativity!
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Beef and onion skewers. The waitress told us the fire symbolized the power of Austurias, the onion the flavor of the region, and the beef the cows (they weren’t super creative with the last one).
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Me enjoying my third (fourth?) tapa of the championship.
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A shell-fish mixture served in a shell. Major points for presentation 🙂
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The special carbonated sidra that was offered with every tapa. It was released once the championship began, and everyone (seriously: EVERYONE) in Austurias was really excited!
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The Darth Vader Burger. It was fried octopus with garlic-aioli ice cream (yep, actual ice cream on the burger). That was by far the strangest (and most confusing) thing we ate.
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Still not sure what this was, but it was one of my favorites. It was some sort of pastry with meat  and herbs and a sauce of some kind. (Looking back, that probably wasn’t very a very helpful discription, but I do my best.)
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We finished off the championship with a HUGE dish a cachopo, a dish of fried meat and cheese. (Trust me – it looks even bigger after 6 or 7 tapas!)
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Liahna and I with our amazing guides, Yasmin and Carol 🙂
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