Mediterranean Cuisine vs. Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean cuisine What is Mediterranean cuisine? Mediterranean Cuisine is the ultimate in fusion food; with the vast amount of land that is considered to be Mediterranean there are a lot of different cultures that attribute robust and hearty flavors into...

Mediterranean cuisine
Mediterranean cuisine

What is Mediterranean cuisine?

Mediterranean Cuisine is the ultimate in fusion food; with the vast amount of land that is considered to be Mediterranean there are a lot of different cultures that attribute robust and hearty flavors into this cuisine. For the most part, Mediterranean cuisine is broken into three main regions Eastern Mediterranean, Southern Europe and Northern Africa. Pulling from this abundance of cultures livens up the flavor profile of this cuisine.

Main Ingredients

  • Vegetables - Most Mediterranean meals are full of hearty vegetables. Mediterranean meals mostly center around vegetables as the main source of nutrition.
  • Seafood - Because of their proximity to the Mediterranean Sea there was a surplus of fresh seafood.
  • Small livestock - Goats, sheep and pigs were the primary source of game eaten by the Mediterraneans. Larger livestock, such as cows, could not be raised in the rocky terrain.
  • Herbs - The flavor behind many Mediterranean meals. Oregano, basil and thyme are just a few of the spices used to season this cuisine.
  • Dairy products - Yogurt is a main staple in Mediterranean cuisine. It is used in sauces and as a condiment to aid in adding to any of their food sources.

What is the Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is a diet created in 1945 by American scientist, Ancel Keys, based on the fact that most Mediterraneans consumed high amounts of vegetables and less meat. While not popular when it was first created, it gained a widespread audience in the 1990's.

The main principals of the Mediterranean diet are as follows:

  • 6-12 servings of vegetable
  • 1-2 servings of meat
  • 4-6 servings of grains
  • 1-3 servings of milk or dairy products
  • also a daily consumption of red wine

While the diet promotes the more healthy aspects of the cuisine, Mediterranean cuisine as a whole does not limit itself to these guidelines.

Typical Mediterranean Dishes

Many Mediterranean meals consisted of an assortment of vegetables or an antipasto type dish. Something as simple as a kabob skewered with mozzarella, basil and tomato would constitute as a Mediterranean dish. A classic Mediterranean dish is Tabbouleh, which is a Mediterranean salad. Tabbouleh is made with a grain called Bulgar. This grain is different from others such as rice or quinoa because it fluffs in cold water.  Tabbouleh is made with other tradition Mediterranean vegetables such as cucumber, red onion and cherry tomatoes and dressed in olive oil and lemon juice. Mediterranean dishes tend to be light yet fulfilling because of the abundance of vegetables.

Tabbouleh salad
Tabbouleh salad

With influences from countries such as Greece, Turkey, and Morocco there is much to learn about the complexities of this cuisine. For more about this cuisine and more recipes, contact us.