Mediterranean cuisine is a combination of local foods and preparation methods used by people who live along the Mediterranean Sea. The cuisine spans from Spain and Morocco in the West to Turkey, Lebanon, and Israel in the East. The geographical diversity of these regions gives the food produced there an exquisite taste compared to the traditional cuisines of other places around the world. Here’s an introduction to Mediterranean cuisine and the characteristics that make is so special.
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Trinity of Foods
Tunisian author Mohamed Yassine Essid listed olives, wheat, and grapes as the basics of Mediterranean cuisine. From those three, olive oil, bread, and wine are produced. Several Mediterranean regions have adapted these foods to create a variety of unique dishes. In Spain, for example, paella is one of the most traditional dishes. It’s a combination of fish and rice sauteed with olive oil and served with a glass of wine or sangria.
Catalan cuisine is heavily based on wheat products, vegetables with olive oil drizzle, and a variety of fish. In addition, anise is grown throughout the region. It’s used to flavor certain dishes and is widely known as the source of the liquor absinthe.
The concept of a Mediterranean diet was developed to reflect food patterns in Greece and Italy in the 1950s and 60s. There wasn’t any recognition of this until the 1990s and it was later added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2013. The diet calls for a high consumption of olive-based products, unrefined grains, fruits and vegetables, a moderate consumption of cheese, yogurt, fish, and wine, and a low consumption of non-fish meats, like lamb or pork.
What are the benefits of the Mediterranean diet? Studies show that it can lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Olives and, in particular, olive oil can lower prevent chronic conditions and cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s.
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In Barcelona, it’s easy to find some of the best Mediterranean Cuisine from Spain or any other regions touching the Mediterranean sea. From typical Spanish and Catalan food to Italian, Greek, Moroccan, and Turkish dishes, similar regional ingredients have inspired the unique gastronomies of several different countries. The core of the diet is centered around many of the same ingredients that have been adapted over the ages. Today, it’s considered to be one of the healthiest and most delicious cuisines in the world.
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