Small Plates: Conversation Cuisine
While preparing our new menu we came across an epic battle of what do we actually call our ala carte, small plate, shared platter driven, new food items.
After quite a bit of research we’ve realized there really wasn’t a right or wrong answer but there are many titles for small plates. We are going to cover a few of the sometimes misunderstood big boys of the small plate world.
Tapas: Comes from the Spanish verb tapar or to cover. There are many stories as to how this came to fruition, but my favorite stems from King Alfonzo X. He was out and about drinking wine on a windy day and his bar keep put a piece of ham atop his wine glass to cover it from getting dirty. When he ordered a second glass he also wanted another “cover”. This (along with a few other variations of this story) sparked the idea of small plates of food served with alcoholic beverages. The cool part about today’s tapas craze is the fact it’s really designed to encourage people to converse, hang out, and consume more beverages. When you’re not concerned with sitting down to a big meal the conversation is said to flow and be more enjoyable.
Bruschetta: Translates to “roast over coals”. Traditional bruschetta was a starter dish of grilled bread rubbed with garlic, olive oil, and salt. Not only was this a good way to use bread that was going stale, it also served as a vehicle for the tasting of local olive growers fresh oil. Today’s variations include tomatoes, vegetables, beans, cured meats, or cheeses. In the US we’ve bastardized real bruschetta by using the term for the tomato basil condiment and not the bread. If you think about it Bruschetta is simply just the earliest form of garlic bread. Use the term how you may, there isn’t much better than a great piece of toasted bread slathered in goodies. The best part? There really is not limitation to the combinations and flavors your can create. Share them, drink with them, love them.
Anti Pasto: Italian for before the meal. Anti Pasto is usually served at the table and signifies the beginning to a meal. Culturally this is different from our typical dinner at home but antipasto really is used to prolong time spent enjoying each other’s company. Food stuffs usually include cured meats, olives, peperoncini, mushrooms, various cheeses, anchovies, and pickled veggies. Maybe we are crazy, but it’s hard to think about eating all those wonderful things and then waiting to consume more pasta. Guess we really will be spending quite a bit of time at the table conversing.
All in all we don’t really care what you call your small plates, as long as you enjoy them with friends & wine. That being said, here on this very blog….. We create the new all inclusive small plate category …… It shall be called Conversation Cuisine.