The Spanish government wants to ensure one of its most prized culinary traditions gets the worldwide respect it deserves. In Spain, tapas refers to a variety of dishes, from olives to marinated seafood, served in small portions alongside alcoholic beverages and usually consumed in the evening to tide appetites over until the typical 10 p.m. dinnertime — but thanks to the small plates trend that's taken hold in America over the past decade, the term has become a catch-all to refer to shared plates offered at restaurants serving any number of different cuisines.
Now, Spain is seeking Unesco heritage status for its tapas traditions, according to The Local. "Tapas are the very model of food," said Rafael Ansón, president of Spain’s Royal Academy of Gastronomy, noting that they're not just a specific dish but "a way of eating."
Unesco grants Intangible Cultural Heritage status to practices it feels are "both especially important to world heritage and cultural diversity, and deserving of lasting protection." Other culinary traditions previously granted Unesco recognition include Korean kimchi, Armenian lavash bread, Croatia's lavishly decorated gingerbread, and Turkish coffee; Italy's Neapolitan pizza is also being considered, with Unesco's official decision to be handed down in 2017.