Tapas are a true celebration of the Spanish culture and social way of life for which the Spanish are famous. Having lived in rural Andalucia for almost four years, we regularly enjoy having a drink and chat with friends accompanied by of course, the famous Spanish tapa. For those of you who have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing them for yourself, tapas are in effect bite sized morsels of food served with a drink in the bar and the Andalucian region of Granada is the only place where tapas are still complimentary.
However, you often find yourself wanting more as tapas are rarely slices of dry bread or a bowl of nuts anymore (although it has been known in some establishments) So what do you do when you are still a little peckish but do not want to go the whole hog and order a full meal? Alongside tapas, you will find 'raciones' which are often just a larger portion of the tapas of the day, say big enough for two or three to share, but not necessarily.
Raciones are most often on the bar menu and if you order something from this side of the menu you will get a basket of bread and often a side salad, plus enough forks for the party present at the table - you can specify whether the racione is for two or ten! Of course, the main difference is that a racione, unlike a tapa is not complimentary.
Ordering a racione is a fantastic way of extending your social engagement without paying for or having the full formality of a meal. They are often the best way of sampling the best local cuisine as the most popular dishes make up the racione menu. They can include everything from simple serrano ham and cheese with olives, to mini paella portions or even grilled lamb chops with the local speciality sauce.
Tapas and raciones - Andalucia's most famous tapas recipe list