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It’s official: Soul Bosses are foodies.

That’s great! Because a casual, al fresco get together with friends and family is also the perfect way to feed your soul.

So let’s take a break and talk about the Spanish idea of small bites or “tapas.” We’re not talking about dishes so overloaded with spices that your mouth goes numb. Or the urban myth that Latin foods are just tortillas overloaded with a thick layer of cheddar cheese. Forget it!

The perfect tapas spread is seasonal, fresh and filled with different textures and flavors. If you’re new to tapas, start with basics like a beautiful antipasto tray and sizzling garlic shrimp. (Wikipedia has a list of 40 kinds of tapas if you’re interested.)

However, tapas is more than what you serve; it’s a feeling. The point is to create a spread that appeals to you, whether you make one or two traditional dishes or an eclectic, elaborate mix of old and new.

Go to your favorite market with a keen eye and an open mind. In season fruits and vegetables? A decadent cheese? Cured meat or seafood? Or just a wonderful bowl of olives with a slice of crusty bread? You just made tapas!

The rain keeps coming in Seattle, but that’s not going to keep me from trying out some of the recipes below. I’ll join you outside if we ever get two sunny days in a row…

Enjoy!

Basic antipasto platter

BBC Good Food 40 Tapas Recipes

Food and Wine Tapas Recipes

Real Simple Casual Tapas Party

Epicurious Tapas Party

Williams-Sonoma Tapas Ideas

20 Quick and Easy Sangria Recipes

Rick Bayless’ Margaritas for a Crowd

Good Find Friday: Make Your Own Happy Hour