The Mediterranean food; history and mix of cultures

This month we delve into the Mediterranean Sea to discover one of its most valuable treasures. Its culinary culture, a way of life created with many influences of the peoples and civilisations inhabited the Mediterranean basin over the years.

What is Mediterranean food?

Mediterranean food refers to the typical dishes and methods of preparation found in the Mediterranean area, including the territories whose waters flow into the Mediterranean Sea. Southern Europe, North Africa, and the westernmost part of Asia, also known as the Middle East or the Levant.

Mediterranean Diet pyramid

A wise combination of foods is more balanced, rich and complete because the products that compose it have valuable and recognised natural qualities for our health. This type of cooking is economical in resources and achieves nutritious and tasty dishes with few simple ingredients. But, without a doubt, its fundamental characteristic is the use of olive oil as the primary source of fat. 

Cultural exchange

The etymology of this sea comes from the Latin "Mar Medi Terraneum", meaning "sea in the middle of the land".

Historically and culturally, the Mediterranean basin has been a place of birth and development of Western civilisation. From its origins in Mesopotamia, it has seen the growth and expansion of peoples such as Egypt, Israel, Phoenicia, Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.

10 maps that explain the Mediterranean Sea

The spread of Western civilisation to northern and eastern Europe during the Middle Ages and the irruption of Islam into the Mediterranean area meant the break-up of the unity of the Mediterranean. Still, there continued commercial and cultural exchange between its shores despite political and religious differences.

Today, the Mediterranean culinary heritage is full of influences from other cuisines such as Greek, Italian, Jordanian, North African, Ottoman, French Provençal and Spanish.

Common Ingredients

The historical factors shared by these regions are climate, economy, and a determining factor in this geographical area is the extent of olive tree cultivation. But the three primary and common ingredients are olive, wheat and grapes, which are used in the production of olive oil, bread, pasta and wine.

Other Mediterranean ingredients are Cereals such as rice or barley, vegetables such as artichokes, courgettes, fennel, aubergines or garlic, fruit such as figs, plums, oranges, lemon, or apricots and pulses such as chickpeas or lentils. Nuts such as almond, pinenuts or hazelnuts.

Aromatic oils recipe

Aromatic herbs such as basil, rosemary, thyme, tarragon, lavender or oregano and a wide variety of spices such as cumin, saffron, anise, cardamom, cinnamon or peppercorn. 

Green Lamb recipe

Fish and seafood are also one of the main ingredients in the Mediterranean tables; sea bass, sardines, cod, octopus, shrimp, mussels and squid are the most common. Poultry and other meats such as lamb, goat, beef and pork, and dairy products such as milk, yoghurt, cheese or butter are also used. We cannot forget ingredients from other cultures, which have acclimatised to the Mediterranean over the years and form part of our diet, such as tomatoes, avocados, corn or peppers, among many others.

Chicken soup recipe

 I hope you have enjoyed this little journey through the Mediterranean Sea and its people. As you can see, our identity is nothing more than a mixture of all the people who, throughout history, have contributed to the Mediterranean culture.

Thank you for reading this article, and see you soon with a new Mediterranean recipe.

Have a tasty day! 

7 Ratings | Rating: 4.7 out of 5
Chef H. Delgado Ebook

I’m Chef H. Delgado

It is a pleasure for me to invite you to discover the best dishes and ingredients of Spanish cuisine. Receive my best Spanish recipes via e-mail

Latest entries of my blog

Andalusian Soup

Andalusian "Sopa Perota" Recipe: Traditional soup with fresh ingredients and authentic flavors

This week, I want to share a special vegan soup you've likely never heard of or tasted. This recipe is quick, easy, and inexpensive; you only need a selection of garden vegetables and hard bread from the day before as the original recipe.

Read more

The legend of the world's most dangerous hiking trail, El Caminito del Rey

After a busy Christmas with a lot of work in the kitchen, we start the year by taking some fresh air in this beautiful and impressive part of the Spanish geography. I have visited the Gaitanes gorge to show you one of the most incredible trails in Spain, called the Caminito del Rey.

Read more

Thistle with Almonds, a Christmas meal you may not know about

Christmas is approaching, and many people are considering what food to prepare for these special days to surprise and make their guests happy. And sometimes we are grateful for some ideas to cook a different healthy dish.

Read more

Learn how to make the traditional Spanish Pie "Empanada"

This week I return to the north of Spain to bring you another of its star recipes. This traditional dish, with countless versions, has been modified over time depending on each country's and region's typical products until it became what it is today.

Read more

Traditional Spanish pastries, "Buñuelos de viento" on All Saints Day

This week I bring you one of my favourite traditional sweets. It is a fried dough ball made with flour, eggs, water, milk and butter, usually filled with whipped cream, custard, chocolate ganache or other creams or jams.

Read more

The most used spices in Spanish Cuisine

This week I am opening my pantry to show you my favourite spices. I will give you some examples and tips on how to use them to achieve a good balance of flavours in your dishes and make them successful.

Read more
Chef H. Delgado Ebook
Chef H. Delgado Ebook

Subscribe now and get a free copy of my first e-book

The selection of these 12 old recipes of humble origin tries to show the more representatives products of my country. Enjoy!