A while back, some friends of ours were out and about with visitors from England, and they decided to make a pit stop for some tapas. It was the tail end of lunch time, at one of the popular tapas bars, so supplies were running low. First of all, they ordered tortilla, only to be told ‘Lo siento, no tenemos tortilla.’ So they tried patatas bravas, and got the same response – ‘Lo siento, no tenemos patatas bravas.’ And so it continued, through albondigas, magra and mejillones. (Or meatballs, pork stew and mussels).
Then somebody had the bright idea to ask for croquetas de jamon, and bingo – there were indeed croquetas still available. The waiter asked how many they wanted and our friend Alex asked for ‘Dos raciones,’ showing off his command of Spanish and his experience of tapas ordering in one fell swoop – or so he thought. The waiter queried his choice a couple of times, and when Alex insisted, he went away, shaking his head.
The other members of the party – who shall remain anonymous to spare their blushes – asked what the problem was. Alex explained that helpings of tapas were usually huge, and if he’d ordered four servings, they would have ended up with a mountain of croquetas de jamon. Happy with that explanation, they sat back to wait. After a while, out came a plate, with two croquetas de jamon, tastefully garnished with a sprig of parsley. They all had a good laugh, then tossed a coin to see who would get to eat the croquetas.
As they were relating this tale of woe to us, I took great delight in explaining that, while most tapas are indeed served up in generous raciones, croquetas are always ordered singly. What Alex had ordered turned out to be starvation raciones – and yes, the pun is intended!