It sounds like an exotic greeting, doesn’t it? Like “ciao”, for instance. I have just discovered, however, that “tapas”
literally means a lid or a cover. That’s how the dishes we now know and love came into being, didn’t you know. In some long-ago Spanish eatery, a waiter with imagination put a lump of bread (or something similar) on top of a customer’s
drink to keep the flies out of it. As the custom caught on, with ever more elaborate toppings, the lids became every bit as interesting as the drink they covered – and tapas made it into the cookery books. I do like it when the Daily Blog goes all educational,
every so often...
Mr B and I weren’t looking for a history lesson when we ambled into our local Tapas restaurant yesterday. In fact, we only arrived
in this particular eating establishment by an accident of fate. It was all down to what happened in Marks & Spencers.
The thing is, we couldn’t
quite decide when, how and what we were going to eat that day. Should we have our main meal in the middle of the day and snack on a boiled egg in the evening? Or just settle for an egg and rocket sandwich in Marks & Spencer’s cafe and cook
the lamb chops already residing in our fridge at home for dinner? Should we have a “proper” lunch out in some posh (ish) restaurant? Decisions, decision, decisions...
Here is what we finally decided. We would visit the Food Hall at M&S in search of a “Dine In for £10” offer. If the offer included a meal which we both fancied, we would buy it for our evening meal and settle for a sandwich
lunch (we had conveniently forgotten the lamb chops at this point). If not, then we would find a good place to eat and push the culinary boat out just a little. I expect you have got there ahead of me – there were lots of shelves in the Food
Hall marked with red signs declaring “Offers” but no “Dine in for £10.” So that was that and off we set to find the Tapas Restaurant where we would spend a great deal more than £10 to “Dine Out”. The irony
of it didn’t occur to either of us.
We dillied and dallied over the menu for ages, but then, isn’t that half the fun of it? I worried that we weren’t
able to choose from the main menu which insisted the dishes were “for a maximum of eight persons only.” Mr B pointed out that I was mixing up my maximums and minimums. As far as he could tell, he said, there were only two of us. Silly, silly
It’s ages since we had a lovely lunch out like that. A proper lunchtime meal, I mean, not soup and a roll, or a sandwich. Lunch with a
bottle of wine, a meal to savour, an opportunity to chat over delicious dishes about important things like Mr B’s forthcoming birthday and how he wants to celebrate it. It is another “BIG” birthday, so needs to be celebrated in style.
We went through all the options as thoroughly as we ate our way through the tapas. A family meal out? A weekend away? A holiday? A party – in a hired hall or
at home? I think we have finally decided on a party at our place. It would be great if I could invite you all but I can’t and, as Mr B would point out, it IS his party, after all so the Guest List is down to him, not me. Anyway you will doubtless
hear all about it, via the Daily Blog, which will hopefully be the next best thing to being there.
When it came to pay the bill, the manager offered us a liqueur
“on the house”. This was more than kind of him as it was approaching closing time and we couldn't have blamed him for hurrying us on our way. We were grateful that we had caught the bus into town so that neither of us had to refuse the kind offer
of a brandy (Mr B) and a Cointreau (for me) on the grounds that we were driving home. The bill was also sweetened by the presence of at least a dozen jelly beans on the silver tray. Jelly beans! When was the last time I ate jelly beans? Mr B kindly let
me have most of his share as well as my own which was gallant in the extreme.
Later that evening we watched the film “Sliding Doors” starring Gwyneth
Paltrow. It’s one of our favourites, mostly because it always leads us into a fascinating (if often repeated) discussion about what would have happened if we had (i) bought a different house; (ii) taken a different job; (iii) moved to a different
part of the country. In fact, if we had taken any number of life-paths, rather than the ones we did. We always end up agreeing that, for better or for worse, this is the life we chose. Think of the dear friends we would never have met had we lived and
worked somewhere else. It doesn't bear thinking about.
It was the same principle yesterday afternoon. If M&S had been offering “Dine
in for £10”, think what we would have missed out on.