Around 1965 Franco gave the order that restaurants must offer visitors an economic “Tourist Menu”, consisting of a starter, main, dessert, bread and a drink. Even the dishes and drinks that should be offered were stipulated. This wasn’t at all popular with restaurant owners, who would understandably encourage unwary travelers to spend more by choosing à la carte.
In 1970 the Dictatorship relented and allowed the tourist menu to be definitively renamed the “menú del día” – affordable, balanced and beloved by Spanish workers back then and still today.
When I first came to live here in 1989 all menus offered a very similar set of rotating choices. Nowadays there is more variety, but occasionally I eat in a traditional place like El Túria, where the prominently displayed menú del día takes me back to my first years here.
A few classics:
Sopa Castellana – broth with oil, bread, a little ham and an egg.
Arroz à la Cubana – Rice, tomate frito, fried egg and if you’re lucky, a fried banana!
Fabes con almejas – my favourite. Butter bean and clam stew.
Boquerones fritos – fried fresh anchovies – delicious!
You’re on holiday, so order wine with gaseosa (white lemonade). Even bog-standard red wine tastes good this way, and they often give you a whole 750cl bottle of wine!
You get a choice of coffee or dessert; if you have both they’ll charge extra for the coffee. There’s not much to get excited about by way of puds, although fresh seasonal fruit can be spectacular!