The concept of Mediterranean food is unfairly limited in the minds of most people, especially in the United States. Mediterranean food is not just Greek food. It is not just Italian food. It is food which comes from all nations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, twenty-three in all, and it is steeped in history and tradition.
For simplification, Mediterranean food is generally divided into three geographic groupings: Eastern European, Southern Europe, and North African. Each grouping has unique flavors, spices, and personalities.
Eastern European – The Balkans, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine
Southern Europe – Italy, Spain, Portugal, Southern France
North African – Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Lybia
Mediterranean foods are known for their use of fresh vegetables, very tender meats, and savory spices, but the core of these dishes are olives, wheat, and grapes, three staples found in abundance in this region, dating back centuries. In a very real sense, when you dine on Mediterranean foods, you are dining on history.
The emphasis is on freshness. You will find very little, if any, processed foods in any Mediterranean dish. It would almost be a sacrilege to include such things. The emphasis is also on spices of a particular region. It is important to note that the history of the Mediterranean cuisine is deeply rooted on availability . . . the catch of the day sort of thinking . . . and with the available ingredients, local spices, in abundance, were added. There is no confusion when tasting Mediterranean food; the explosion of taste will alert you that you are now dining on one of the world’s true culinary pleasures.