Think Spanish food and the image of tapas immediately come to mind. And those little bites that are best enjoyed with an ice-cold glass of wine or beer could soon be Unesco protected.
Spain has asked Unesco to declare tapas an Intangible Cultural Heritage, the president of Spain’s Royal Academy of Gastronomy, Rafael Ansón said on Thursday.
“Tapas are the very model of food,” said Ansón as he announced the plan.
“Pizza in itself is not intangible,” Ansón told Spanish radio broadcaster Cadena Ser, “but the concept of the Mediterranean diet, for example, is.”
“Tapas, too, are a way of eating,” he added.
“The project is very advanced. The Ministry of Culture will make the formal presentation but I have spoken to Unesco and they are already looking into it,” he said.
The word tapas comes from the Spanish tapar – to cover and a tapa – a lid. Spaniards used to use their chunks of bread, topped with various delicious morsels, as a lid to cover their beer and wine to prevent the flies from getting in, hence the word “tapa” (“lid”) was born.
Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list includes “living” practices, skills and traditional craftsmanship. In Spain, this includes flamenco, and the castells, or human towers, a popular practice during fiestas in the northeastern region of Catalonia.
The Mediterranean diet is already on the list, but Spaniards are keen that tapas gets its own protection and recognition.
Tapas are not the only food vying for a place on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Naples in Italy is hoping the organization will admit “the art of Napolitan pizza making” onto the list.