2. Patatas bravas
A staple among the small dishes that make up a classic tapas menu, patatas bravas -- "brave potatoes" -- is named for its spicy sauce, rare in a land that generally shuns fiery food.
The potatoes are cubed and shallow fried and served the same everywhere.
The sauce can come in any number of ways, from spicy ketchup to garlic mayonnaise with a dusting of pimiento (smoked paprika), or both.
One theory holds that the dirtier the bar, the better the bravas.
"Tapas originated in southern Spain and is an adaptation to the social culture of eating and drinking outside the home, and fulfills the same social function as the English public house and other similar institutions," explains Shawn Hennessey, who runs tapas tours of Seville.
"It's important to note that the tapeo (tapas crawl) is not primarily a 'drinking culture' thing -- it's oriented to friends and family with a communal atmosphere.
"Intoxication and rowdiness are rare. Key factors are the social sharing of food, and the opportunity to try a lot of different things in one meal. In short, tapas are a way of life."
Where to try? La Taverna del Clínic, Barcelona
La Taverna del Clinic, Rossello, 155, 08035 Barcelona Spain;