Tapas serves as an aperitif for the main meal. / AFP

Pub grub or tapa?

Tapas and pub grub, while somewhat similar, could not be more different

ANDREW J. LINN

The phrase 'pub grub' has a ring about it that 'tapas' lacks, and the difference does not end there.

In a recent survey, UK pub customers preferred fish and chips, steak, pizza, and beefburgers as accompaniments to those expensive pints of ale.

So, as is usually the case in the cultural maze that distinguishes the British and the Spanish way of life, it all comes down to tradition.

Tradition

While a tapa is an aperitif almost always consumed prior to eating a formal meal, be it lunch or dinner, pub food is an end in itself. Indeed, Spaniards do not go to tapas bars to satisfy their hunger, rather to 'abrir el apetito' ('open the appetite') ergo get in the mood for the main meal, which is of course lunch.

Even when they visit a restaurant after having eaten enough tapas to make the subsequent sit-down meal excessive, no-one seems to lack appetite.

Right or wrong?

There is much confusion as to what is 'correct' and what isn't. When foreign visitors order a tapa to have with their coffee, this beverage normally being an accompaniment to morning toast or the last act before getting up from the table, is it right or wrong?

Americans drink coffee with just about everything, and in most eating places the possibility of getting wine or even beer is almost zero. (They look at you as if you are crazy when you ask for the wine list when ordering a pizza.) So, if pub grub does satisfy the British appetite and tapas doesn't, such is the rich tapestry of national culinary traits.