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What is Mediterranean Food- A Diet You Can Build Your Lifestyle Around

What is Mediterranean Food Diet, and Its Origins

When we think about what is Mediterranean food, we conjure up visions of brightly colored fruits and vegetables, seafood, probably a bottle of red wine, and of course olive oil.  It is true that it will look a lot like the picture below, and it’s also true that we will put these foods into the category of fat-burning food. But it is more than food, but a social experience where people come together and share something nutritious and wonderful.  It is a way of living a healthy and happy lifestyle.

what is mediterranean food

Mediterranean Diet Isn’t Just Italy and Greece

This diet actually comes from a very diverse region.  It could be broken down into three broad culinary regions: The Eastern Mediterranean from Greece to Egypt, Southern Europe, or the north coast of the Mediterranean, and North Africa with its boldly spiced foods.

Olive Oil Cookery: The Mediterranean Diet

Olive Oil Cookery: The Mediterranean Diet

But even though all of these areas offer amazing foods in their own right, when we generally think of foods that go into Mediterranean diets, we mostly think of Italy, Greece and Southern France. About 1975, the Mediterranean diet began to be highly publicized with magazine articles and then cookbooks touting the benefits of “Mediterranean Cooking”. They were foods traditionally from this area of Southern Europe.  The signature ingredients of these foods are fresh vegetables and fruit, fish and shellfish, and chicken, lamb, sheep, and pork.  Beef is not used prevalently in the native diet because most of the lands cannot support huge numbers of beef cattle.

The Keys to What is Mediterranean Food: Olive Oil and Spices

But perhaps the key to Mediterranean food is olive oil, and then fresh herbs and spices. These include cilantro, basil and oregano, mint, dill, parsley and rosemary, and they are used abundantly used.  The Mediterranean foods are for good reason considered not only nutritious and healthy, but make for great eating.

When Thinking What Is Mediterranean Food Also Consider Mediterranean Spain

Spain is where so many meals are served in the popular tapas tradition, also has some wonderful foods.   Tapas, by the way, is food is served in smaller portions, but in a variety of different foods and many courses.  Traditional Mediterranean diet foods featuring fish will be included in meals more on the Eastern and Southern coasts of Spain than inland, from Catalonia to the Costa del Sol.

what is Mediterranean foodThere are a good many similarities in foods in this region and that farther east.  The climate and the terrain are quite similar throughout this area, resulting in similar foods being harvested.  The soil is generally dry, the summer very warm and the winters quite mild.  Although fish in the Mediterranean are not as abundant as they once were, restaurants and shops still have displays of fresh fish.

History also plays a huge part in the makeup of this region.  Even though it has been nearly 2000 years since the domination of the area by the Roman Empire, the people in the Mediterranean area are very proud of their traditions.  And interestingly, much of the Mediterranean food they eat and meals they prepare have their origins as far back as this period of history.  How food is enjoyed with family and friends and the great wine in the area are traditions that goes back centuries.

Personally I’ve always been an admirer of the food and wine in Italy, but I was recently in the Alicante area on the east coast of Spain.  I had a chance to tour one of their vineyards, and I am now a big fan of Spanish red wine. Extremely full-bodied and very dark red, they are perfect for the hearty food that is served in Spain. I would highly recommend touring some of the Spanish vineyards if you get the chance.

 

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