I Think I’ve Been Spoiled…
When I first came to Spain back in 2007 I was studying abroad in Granada— you know, that beautiful student paradise where every drink comes with a free tapa. The quality of the free tapa varies a lot, but did I mention that it’s free!? By the time I left Granada I’d tried my share of tapas, and, although there was nothing mind blowing that I recall, I went home happy with plenty of savings still in the bank!
Hungry in Granada = 3 beers/glasses of wine + 3 free tapas = 6,00€ (como mucho)
A couple of years later I graduated from college and decided to avoid a 9-5 by moving to Seville. At first I was disappointed that this bigger city didn’t offer the same deal as Granada. But it turns out it was better that they didn’t! The lack of free food forced me to choose my tapa and, as a result, I began to truly appreciate Spanish products and Spanish cuisine. The night I met my husband I fell in love—but it wasn’t with him (yet) and rather with Spanish food! That night he introduced me to Iberian pork, fried fish from Cadiz, and the most amazing cold soup I ever imagined. I spent two years in Seville eating out around four times a week. Was I rich? Absolutely not! But the tapas there are often almost the same price as buying the ingredients to cook them at home. Needless to say we took advantage of this.
Hungry in Seville = 3 beers/glasses of wine + 2-3 amazing tapas = 7,00€ – 10,00€ (on average)
Now I’m living in Madrid. I can’t say I have ventured out too much—we’ve been busy and cooking mostly at home. But when I have gone out I’ve seen tapas ranging from 3,50€-10,00€ each! And while I’m sure they are great (in one bar I had the most amazing tortilla of my life) the price (that slice of tortilla cost 6,00€!) makes me think twice before ordering them!
Hungry in Madrid = 1 beer/glasses of wine + 1 tapa = what I can afford right now!
When I heard about one of Madrid’s tapas festivals I was excited to try it out. Tapapiés took place in the Lavapiés neighborhood, a very international barrio close to my house. The participating bars featured one tapa that cost 1,00€ not including any beverage. International tapas? Close to home? 1,00€? It had potential!
Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver. I went on a Thursday night with some great company—the husband and two Madrid language assistants/bloggers, Shana and Cassandra. It was great to meet the girls and, lucky for me, they knew the area quite well. We visited 6 of the 31 establishments, and maybe I just had bad luck, but I doubt it.
Why didn’t Tapapiés impress?
Crowds: It was a Thursday night towards the end of the festival. Obviously I expected it to be crowded, and it was. But I didn’t expect some of the bars to be so unorganized and for the waiters to be rude. If ever there was a time to smile it was then—I was assessing these places for future dates, drinks, visitor spots, etc. Not impressed.
Quality: I dream of owning a restaurant. I love working in them, eating in them, reading about them… If I had a restaurant I would use a festival like Tapapiés to really shine. I would present something well executed and creative. I would showcase the best my staff could do, hoping to attract more business. I don’t think these places had that kind of mentality. The majority of the tapas were boring and basic. Many were poorly executed—cold when they should’ve been hot, lacking salt, super greasy… They didn’t take advantage of this opportunity and that makes me sad!
Price: 1,00€ tapas sound pretty cheap but they were all as tiny as a tapa could be. I normally eat 3 tapas when I’m really hungry and here I ate 6! Add that 6,00€ to the 3 glasses of wine I drank at around 2,20-2,50 each (and I always ordered the house wine) and it comes to a not so cheap dinner of about 13,00€.
Once again Spanish businesses have proven to me that they don’t care enough about attracting new clients and being even the least bit creative. I hope (for the sake of this economy) that people wake up and start being a little bit competitive. Raise the damn bar already!!! (If anyone wants to loan me 1 million euro I’ll open an awesome business here, I promise you!)
Please excuse their quality!
a) I’m learning… it’s slow progress but I enjoy it!
b) Lighting?! How on earth do people take good food photos at night!!!???
If anyone has any photography advice please leave it in the comments; I’d really appreciate it!
And if you went to the festival what did you think? Am I just being spoiled? Let me know!