Mediterranean Cuisine: History And Main Foods

The Mediterranean is not only a geographical area with spectacular weather and regions. It also adds its wonderful cuisine. In today’s post I will talk about Mediterranean-style cuisine, which I enhance in my restaurant, its history and benefits.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based largely on the traditional cuisine of the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Although it is difficult to find a single definition of the Mediterranean cuisine, it is typically high in the following main components such as vegetables, fruits, nut and seeds or olive oil that is of high quality in this geographical area.

Main components:

More specifically, the components of the Mediterranean diet include:

  • Daily consumption of vegetables, fruits, nuts and healthy fats.
  • Weekly consumption of fish, poultry and eggs.
  • Moderate portions of dairy products.
  • A more limited intake or red meat.

Plant based

The foundation of the Mediterranean diet is vegetables and fruits. Daily meals are build around these plant-based foods. As I said before, moderate amounts of dairy, eggs or even seafood are central to this diet. 

Healthy fats

Healthy fats are a mainstay of the Mediterranean diet. They are eaten instead of less healthy fats, such as saturated or trans fats, which could contribute to cardiovascular diseases.

Olive oil is the primary source of healthy fats added in the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil provides fats which have been found to lower the total cholesterol.

Nuts like walnuts or other seeds also contain healthy fats.

Fish are also important in the Mediterranean diet. Fatty fish, such as mackerel, sardines, albacore tuna, salmon or lake trout are rich in fatty acids and omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids also help lower triglycerides, reduce blood clotting and decrease the risk of stroke and heart failure.

History of Mediterranean cuisine

Unlike many other styles of cuisine, the Mediterranean food is not the product of an ethnic group ruled by a specific culture. Rather, it is like a label used to refer to culinary trends shared by a wide variety of people who lived in the region around the Mediterranean Sea.

Although Mediterranean cuisine is understood as a unified culinary tradition, in reality, there is a huge amount of variance in cooking according to the specific geographical region in which it is located. Therefore, the region boasts a huge selection of cuisines, like Spanish, French, Italian, Greek etc.

Geographical factors contribute to increasing the influence between people and cultural exchange. And the very first world civilizations that bordered the Mediterranean Sea  bloomed amongst the mild climate and rich soil of this region and their agricultural production flourished.

With its strategic geographical position, the Mediterranean became a main trading place of people who came from Asia, Europe and África. 

Merchants continuously exchanged cultural products such as spices, which resulted in a greater increase and a wide spread of certain ingredients in kitchens. Today, specific products coming from a different region than ours can easily be found in supermarkets and used on a regular basis. For this reason, it is not unusual for us to think of finding fresh pasta in a Spanish restaurant.

Through this form of cultural interaction certain foods, which were fundamental elements of the Mediterranean cuisine, became popular in all regions.

Conquests were also one of the major elements. As a result, societies have blended together, thereby cooking practices of the conquering group were conformed and adopted by the conquered.

Why the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is one of the healthiest existing eating plans today, thus it is recommended by doctors and nutritionists. Thanks to its energy elements and properties, the Mediterranean diet food is beneficial to health and prevents chronic diseases.

It is also recognized by the World Health Organization as a healthy and sustainable dietary lifestyle, as well as being recognized as an intangible cultural asset by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Health benefits

As I mentioned, the Mediterranean diet plan reduces the risk of heart disease and has many benefits. In addition, it is also known as the best ally when it comes to reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease.

It is recommended that you consume approximately nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day. Fruits rich in antioxidants such as blueberries or spinach.

What about the wine?

It has been proven that the Mediterranean diet is a heart-healthy food. It also includes some elements that are usually not suitable for a healthy lifestyle as red wine.

Although it is true that alcohol consumption is common in the traditional Mediterranean diet, it is usually drunk in moderation and, as a rule, only during family meals or gatherings.

Conclusion

Based on fruit and vegetables, the Mediterranean diet is a delicious and healthy way of eating. Many people who try it or even change their eating habits towards this style of food see all the benefits that it entails.

The Mediterranean diet has been associated for years to a number of health benefits that include, among them, a lower risk of mortality and a lower incidence of cardiovascular diseases.