At the center of American tapas is the French fry. It’s the glue that holds the curling stone of culinary delights together. Whether the rock is built from nachos, mozzarella sticks, and potato skins or mac & cheese, pigs in a blanket, and wings, it’s the fry that binds.
And while the fry is an American staple, the bedrock of what would be the US tapas program, it is believed to have been invented by the Spanish. The first country in Europe to be introduced to the potato from the New World was Spain. In the 16th century Saint Teresa of Avila is credited as the creator of the fried potato. But it would not be until the 19th century, almost three hundred years later, that that the French fry finally made it back to the New World. The earliest record we have is from a recipe penned by the hand of Thomas Jefferson who wrote “Pommes de terre frites a cru, en petites tranches.”
As solid as the US fry game is, the Spanish have a 300-year advantage. Fortunately, they don’t use the fry as much as we do in their tapas. To put it all to the test, the tapas crew went up to the training grounds at the Blue Moon Lounge and La Rambla in McMinnville, Organ to see what’s what.
The Blue Moon Lounge is as American tapas as it gets. They have it all and serve it up just the way you like it. The wings are hot and steamy, the nachos thick chicken dripping with cheese, and the fries are electric. Golden with the perfect crust and lite pillowy center, the grease/salt mix is hot and tingly, but does not burn.
La Rambla is old school Spanish. If you have been to Cal Pep in Barcelona, it’s kind of like that. You won’t get served booze while you wait in line at La Rambla, but you will get everything else: pork belly with sherry syrup, oyster with braised spinach, garlic chili shrimp, braised beef enchiladas, octopus with whipped feta and shaved fennel.
I could go on and on about the merits of both teams, and never pick a winner. Discuss.