The menu of the day is a cultural and culinary tradition in Spain. A fixed price meal served from Monday to Friday that offers good, local seasonal foods, the recipes influenced by Spain’s rich history. We have rice, cinnamon, saffron, cumin and oranges from the Moors, slowly cooked stews and soups from the Jews, wine from the Romans and an abundance of foods from the discovery of the new world including; corn and potatoes, chilies and chocolate, avocados and cashews, peppers and tomatoes. The menu del dia will have regional variations, however let’s see what may be on offer; to start perhaps salt cod with orange and potato or gazpacho, a rich tomato soup that is served cold or a tuna and pasta salad. To follow we may be tempted by pork loin roasted with raisins and almonds infused with sweet Malaga wine, or a rich stew of lamb beef or pork enriched with onions and garlic, white beans or chickpeas. There will be bread and wine, water or beer to drink. Dessert is always simple, a cream caramel, yogurt or fresh fruit of the season followed by a coffee. We will enjoy our menu of the day meals leisurely at least an hour or maybe two, as Antonio, a neighbour of ours declared recently “in Spain there is still time to do nothing” we like that.
The menu of the day started to be served in 1965, when the Franco government declared that all restaurants must provide a good solid and cheap lunch for the workers. This menu was to be offered at a price at least 50% less than if the dishes were ordered individually. The Spanish are proud people and have the attitude of “make the best of what you have”. By eating locally and with the seasons, adding some basic staple ingredients they never compromise on flavor. There is both tradition and sentiment ingrained in these people and their recipes. Paella will only be served as a menu of the day dish on a Thursday. This is the day that the rice was available during the time of rationing. The obligation of law to offer menu of the day disappeared with the death of Franco in 1975, however, true to their traditions it still survives in most restaurants today. A quick Cuevas Galera tip; if you are travelling in Spain and see a restaurant serving menu of the day with a car park full of Lorries and traders vans, stop because they will surely be serving one of the best menus of the day, enjoy!