[Sca-cooks] Tapas

Terry Decker t.d.decker at att.net
Sat Aug 1 14:01:42 PDT 2009

> Terry Decker wrote:
>> In that case, recipes are immaterial and the determination of the history 
>> of tapas is based on the word usage.  To determine the history, ignore 
>> the apochrypha and concentrate on the actual usage, which is not easily 
>> located in English translation.  At least I haven't been able to find it.
>> While tapas has moved into English (well, Amurican), the word does not 
>> appear in my copy of the OED.  A quick ref dictionary, gives no usage, 
>> but says that the word derives from the Spanish for "cap" and is of 
>> Germanic origin.  If that is correct, then the original word is likely 
>> "die Kappe." Should the Germanic origin be correct, it likely places the 
>> linguistic transfer prior to 1700.
> From all indications the word "tapa" (lid), meaning hors oeuvres, did not 
> come into use until the 18th Century in
> Spain when the story of a slice of ham was placed on top of a glass of 
> sherry to keep the flies away became popular but the custom of eating hors 
> oeuvres, a snack or light meal and drinking a liquid is traced back to the 
> Arabs due to the heat in regions where they lived.

My point is, if the Germanic origin of tapa is correct, then the linguistic 
transfer is most likely during the Spanish Hapsburg control of the Holy 
Roman Empire prior to the War of the Spanish Succession.  Words tend to be 
used verbally before the appear in print and since we can only determine 
usage based on written record, the word coming into use in the 18th Century 
does not necessarily negate my point.  It would be interesting to know when 
the the first known use occurred and if the etymology of Spanish supports 
the German origin of tapa.  I have no expectation of proving the point one 
way or the other.


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