Tapas vs Pinchos

Tapas vs Pinchos vs Pinxtos? You’ve most likely heard of tapas and maybe even pinchos (aka pintxos) too! Tapas are Spanish snacks or savory finger food using all sorts of ingredients from fish to veggies to cured ham hanging from the ceilings as well. They vary from one Spanish town to another, but always taste delicious since there are unlimited varieties enough to please even finicky eaters.

Tapas and Pinxtos
Tapas and Pinchos

History of Tapas

The legend goes that the thirteenth century Castilian king Alfonso X (the Wise) was ill and had to eat small snacks with his wine between meals to maintain his strength—never heard about drinking wine while ill but so be it. After he recovered, he passed a law that beer and wine served in taverns be accompanied with food. What a great idea since dust and insects just love to find a new home in your drink.

Hence the meaning of “tapa” aka “lid”. The idea of a mid-afternoon snack worked out perfectly for the manual laborers so they could eat small snacks and continue to work until the main meal.

Tapas vs Pinchos vs Pinxtos

In Spain people “tapear”, from one bar to another for drinks and tapas after work (especially since Spaniards eat dinner around 11:00 pm) and/or before special events–it’s a fun part of the social culture of Spain that all tourists should try.

In Catalan (Barcelona), they serve tapas which comes from the Spanish verb ‘tapear’ which means ‘to cover’.

In the Basque country, they serve pinchos which comes from the Spanish verb ‘pinchar’, which means ‘to pierce’.

Still confused? Me too, but the main difference between pinchos and tapas is that pinchos uses toothpicks to avoid the food top from falling off the bread slice bottom. Hence you’ll find a toothpick pierced in your pincho, which the Basque people call ‘pinxtos’. Tapas on the other hand can usually be consumed by mouth in one delicious  bite.

Hey, wait a minute!! Did you eat pinchos? If so, don’t throw away that toothpick too fast you’ll need to have the wait staff count your toothpicks to determine your invoice.

See, now you can impress friends and colleagues next time you “tapear ! Better yet, make your own tapas in 10 minutes.