Beginners’ Spanish: food and drink
Beginners’ Spanish: food and drink

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Beginners’ Spanish: food and drink

Actividad 6

Lía and her friends decide to order a few tapas.


Match the list of common tapas in the left-hand column to their meaning in English.



1 calamares fritos – (e) fried squid rings

1 calamares fritos

2 tortilla de patatas

3 mejillones al vapor

4 queso

5 jamón serrano

6 empanadillas de pulpo

7 aceitunas

8 albóndigas con tomate

(a) meatballs in tomato sauce

(b) cheese

(c) Spanish cured ham

(d) olives

(e) fried squid rings

(f) potato omelette

(g) octopus pasties

(h) steamed mussels


1 – (e); 2 – (f); 3 – (h); 4 – (b); 5 – (c); 6 – (g); 7 – (d); 8 – (a).

Culture: Tapas, pinchos and raciones

A tapa is a very small portion. If you are hungry or you are sharing your meal with more people, you may want to order a media ración (half portion) or even a ración (whole portion).

There is some regional variation in the type of tapas offered. For instance, in the north of Spain people have pinchos, which is a bite of food on a toothpick. The traditional pincho is very simple, for example a small portion of Spanish omelette skewered onto a piece of bread with a toothpick, although in some up-market bars pinchos can be extremely sophisticated. The tradition is to take them directly from the counter and, when you’ve finished, let the waiter know how many you’ve had. This custom is changing, however, and in some new establishments you have to keep the toothpicks in order to be charged accordingly.

Typical tapas in Galicia are octopus (boiled and served with oil and paprika) and fried green peppers (pimientos de Padrón). In central Spain, all types of cheese and cured meats, together with cooked food, from meatballs to fried vegetables, are served as tapas. In Andalusia, the main tapas are fried fish, chorizo and different types of cheese. In Central America, bocas are the equivalent of tapas. In Argentina they are called picadas, and they consist mostly of olives, ham or cheese.


Listen to the following audio track where Lía and her friends discuss what they want to eat. Write down what they decide to order.

Escucha y anota.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: Ordering food
Skip transcript: Ordering food

Transcript: Ordering food

The group is discussing the food they want to order.

Miguel Lía, oye ¿pedimos unos pinchos o una ración de algo? Es que tengo un hambre…

Lía Umm… vale, una ración de tortilla de patatas.

Miguel No, mejor dos, que somos muchos.

Lía ¿Y un poco de jamón y queso?

Miguel Vale, pues una ración de jamón serrano y otra de queso.

Noemí A mí me encantan las empanadillas de pulpo de este bar.

Miguel Pues venga, siete empanadillas. ¿Algo más?

Iker Sí, dos raciones de calamares ¿no?

Lía Vale, perfecto. A ver si viene el camarero. ¡Camarero, por favor!

End transcript: Ordering food
Ordering food
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


They order: tortilla de patatas (dos raciones), jamón serrano (una ración), queso (una ración), empanadillas de pulpo (siete), calamares (dos raciones).


Notice how the sentence ¡Camarero, por favor! is used to call the waiter. Listen to the audio again, paying attention to the intonation.

Download this audio clip.Audio player: I'm paying
Skip transcript: I'm paying

Transcript: I'm paying

Español de bolsillo

Yo invito.


Para mí una cerveza y un pincho de tortilla.

Yo quiero un tinto y unas aceitunas.

Yo un mosto y una tapa de queso.

Para Juan un tinto con gaseosa y una ración de calamares.

End transcript: I'm paying
I'm paying
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