Menu Nineteen

Tapas Party

Madrid spoiled me. Seville ruined me. I first met tapas in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, where a bronze statue of King Philip III on a horse hovers at twilight like a dark spirit over the enormous square bordered with tapas bars. The bars are open all day, but they don’t really get going until 11 P.M. I found an appealing place and ordered a ración of jamon ibérico. A plate arrived, big enough to feed a tableful. I couldn’t get enough of that cured ham—I finished it all.

My flamenco guitar friend, Kenny from Berkeley, told me there was one place in Seville I could always find him and that was the Bar Modesto, a place that specializes in seafood tapas like angulas—baby eels sizzled in olive oil. In an odd sort of cross-pollination, the restaurant had all its tapas cast in plastic in Japan, they way they do sushi. At the bar, the entire counter is an array of plastic tapas displayed in clay cazuelas.