Food: And Now, Time Out for Tapas

New Spanish-style nibbling catches on across the country

Antipasto, move over! Hors d'oeuvres, make room! The new rage in appetizer assortments hails from Spain, and its name is tapas. Although at first glance the word looks a little like something spelled backward, tapas has a meaning all its own. In Spain, at the sherry-sipping hours before lunch and dinner, bars offer an array of small dishes, hot and cold, to whet appetites for dinner and develop a thirst for further drinking. The convivial custom is popular from Barcelona to Seville, but Penelope Casas, in her cookbook Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain (Knopf), speculates that it began about a...

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