Will inflation kill the tradition of the Spanish menú del día?, Source: Unsplash

Menú del día: Inflation attacks Spain’s beloved cultural institution

Menú del día: Inflation attacks Spain’s beloved cultural institution

And big cities are where the effect is the worst despite the more varied offer on the market there

If you’ve ever been to Spain, you’ve probably become accustomed to the chalk-scripted boards that pop up around midday in front of restaurants offering primero, segundo and postre (or first dish, second dish and dessert if your Spanish is rusty) for a set, and usually modest price. That is known as Menú del día and it’s as Spanish as bullfighting, actually probably even more so.

Well, according to Spanish News Today, that dearly held tradition, which budget-conscious day workers and anyone feeling hungry in the city would regularly resort to is facing a serious threat. And all because of that all-too-common culprit – inflation.

You see, it used to be common knowledge that for mere cool 10 bucks you could sate your hunger at the nearby neighbourhood tavern or restaurant. Nowadays, however, the average price for Menú del día has risen up to 12.80 euros, and in the main cities of Madrid and Barcelona, it’s gone up to 14 euros. 

Lunch break – what’s the situation in different cities?

According to a study done by Hostelería de España, the country's association of hospitality businesses, Barcelona leads the way in those unfortunate statistics with 14 euros. Madrid is actually close, but not on par, with an average price of 13.90 euros for the daily menu offering. The third most expensive in that regard is Palma de Mallorca with 13.60 euros.

Among the other larger cities in Spain, the situation is as follows. Bilbao (13.50 euros), Murcia (13.00). Zaragoza (12.80), Valencia (12.60), Malaga (12.50), Seville (12.00) and Las Palmas (11.50). Generally, the more south you go the cheaper it gets, but that has to do with regional economic realities and purchasing power among the population.

And that’s the thing: the menú del día is not something that specifically exists for or targets the tourists. It is part of the Spanish cultural mosaic, something that locals actively use – almost a daily service. Or even a litmus test for changing economic times.

For many, it is practically synonymous with the word lunch (comida) and the little event that split the working day in two and preceded the siesta.

The menu del día was required for many restaurants in Spain by a law enacted in 1965. Initially, it did have a lot to do with standardizing the tourism industry, but it actually found popularity among the residents, too, who embraced it as their own.

It is more than having access to an affordable wholesome meal. In that Mediterranean fashion it is about having the chance to eat out regularly, to be social, to be part of the community. And that is something you can’t put a price on.



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