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Just A Minute: Cuppa Tea Time

Celebrating the value of Menu del Dia and trying to negotiate a cup of tea..

Someone asked me the other day when I last ate fast food and specifically a burger from the place with the golden arches. Do you know what? I can't remember. For a quick snack, I suppose it hits the spot. Still not sure about the gherkin. I always fish them out and chuck them in the bin.

Since arriving in Ibiza I haven't eaten one. There's no need. The food in this country is amazing and if you know where to look, good value for money. By maintaining a diet of fresh, well cooked meals offering value for money I've lost 12 kilos. I've had to buy a new set of clothes but it's a price worth paying

The secret?

Menu del dia. (menu of the day).

Simply a revelation.

Before, I'd eat a large meal in the evening and then retire to the sofa and bed. It being so hot last year I wasn't eating until 10pm. Sleeping became a real problem on a full stomach. I asked a friend of mine the secret to eating properly in Spain.

“Remember only tourists eat paella in the evening. We eat our main meal in the afternoon and then a small bite later on. That's what tapas is all about".

Simple. I've heard it said that Ibiza is expensive. To some extent that's true – if you don't know where to look. I came across my first menu del dia whilst job hunting in Ibiza town. By pure fluke I needed to rest and sat at a café behind the church in Ibiza town.

For a tenner I ate a bowl of amazing vegetable soup and a second plate of food that was so delicious I've been returning ever since. The owner, Hernando, and I are now firm friends. The chef has given me advice on cooking in his style and where to buy the produce. The variety of meals this tiny café turns out day after day is astounding. All for the same price.

On my travels around the island I have found similar deals. A three course meal and glass of wine in a welcoming café near the main bus stops of each area. A similar deal in a lovely café in Santa Eularia.

My best to date is in the village of Ses Paisses. Three courses and a drink for 8e. Amazing value.

It's the drink that always causes the issue though, as I sometimes replace pudding with a cup of tea instead.

But not for me Roobois, Earl Grey, Darjeeling or Lapsang Suchong. I prefer PG Tips. Milk (leche) and two sugars. The trouble is this is not generally how tea is drunk in Spain.

My local café sells island coffee and fancy teas. The owner is an amenable chap who speaks no English. Late last year I took him in an empty box of PG Tips and asked if he had any. Unfortunately he didn't.

"Café con leche, por favor" I said despondently with a shoulder shrug for added effect.

The next day, as I sat at the table, he approached me as excited as a child who had just found a new bike under the Christmas tree. He proudly presented to me his newly acquired purchases. He'd been out and bought PG Tips. Just for me! Not only that, he'd also bought a small teapot!

"Peudo tomar leche por favor" I asked. (can I have milk please) A simple request but he looked at me in complete confusion. "Leche? Por que?"

Two minutes later he returned with a full glass of steaming hot milk. Eventually I convinced him I needed a little cold milk. In amazement he watched as I poured a splash into the bottom of my cup and then added the fresh brew.

"This", I proudly announced, " is how a cup of tea is made". He smiled, but inside I knew he was chuckling at this peculiar English behaviour. A kind and thoughtful café owner who has secured my loyalty for as long as I stay here.

So seek out the menu del dia away from the tourist areas and enjoy some great food.

But please be patient if you want a cup of 'rosy-lee'.

Just a minute!

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