Written with photos by Nguyen Duc Tung for Hanoi Grapevine
Please do not copy or re-post without the permission from the author
Apart from the bullfights and the guitar, Spain also attracts millions of visitors each year with its cuisine. Much like the Vietnamese who like to pair quẩy (a type of cruller) with phở, noodles, porridge… the Spanish always love to have tapas to pair with a glass of wine. On 20 Jun 2019, for the first time ever, the Embassy of Spain with host World Tapas Day in Vietnam.
The reason that tapas is especially loved is because it bear the cultural identity of the Spanish. According to Mrs. María Jesús Figa López-Palop, Spanish ambassador: “Spain is a complex and diverse country where people can strongly express their personal views. But if there is one thing that brings the Spanish together, it is the love for food, and perhaps more importantly, the desire to share that love with those around. And the bars are where the two elements – cuisine and people – are always present. ”In most bars in Spain, customers will be offered a serving of a bread slice with cheese or meat, or a skewer of olives with chili… That is tapas.
World Tapas Day in Vietnam will be held at 24 Spanish restaurants: 20 in Hanoi, 20 in Ho Chi Minh City, 4 in Da Nang and Hoi An. During the event, diners will participate in a series of activities including creating tapas recipes, quizzes, see famous chefs Ferran Adrià or Arzak perform their craft,… Especially, when visiting any restaurant participanting in the event, the diners will receive a “Tapas passport” with which you can go enjoy tapas and drinks at as many restaurants as possible and get a stamp at each restaurant. Diners with the most stamps will have the chance to win special prize. You can search for thr list of restaurants and details about the competition here.
Other Spanish dishes are also present in World Tapas Day:
Ms Mencía Manso, tapas is a traditional Spanish dish from the 10th century that has been popular until now. In Vietnam, we also have such dishes. How to preserve these traditional dishes and to promote national culture through cuisine?
Ms Mencía: Cuisine is one of our greatest cultural properties. Spain did not realize it until about 30 or 40 years ago. We see how cuisine promotes culture, travel and lifestyle. I also think this is the thing in common between us and Vietnam. Vietnam has a rich food culture. People are very fond of Vietnamese food, but it may have not received proper support. In Spain, we are working hard to promote events like this to connect people working with products, food,… with bringing the Spanish identity together as a primary factor. That’s what Vietnam can absolutely do. You have a lot of restaurants in many countries around the world, now you need to bring their intelligence together. Of course having famous world-class chefs also needs to take into consideration. People like Ferran, Arzak or the Roca brothers have been the best ambassadors for Spanish cuisine. And Spanish people also talk about tapas all over the world. So when visitors come to our country, tapas will become part of their experience. In Vietnam, the economy is growing, but culture is identity. You have great food and Vietnamese tourism can be on par with Spain.
The Spanish often have tapas with wine. When organizing the World Tapas Day in Vietnam, did the Spanish Embassy need to learn about traditional or popular drinks in Vietnam to pair with tapas?
Ms Mencía: We thought about that last year that maybe we should do “Tapas Bia hơi” (Tapas with Vietnamese draught beer). It is nice for everyone to go out for dinner, have a drink and chat. This is the first time we organize this event in Vietnam, so we only focus on what is the most Spanish. But it would not be a bad idea to have “Tapas Bia hơi” next year!
Translated by Hanoi Grapevine