What is Mediterranean Cuisine

Mediterranean Cuisine includes the cuisines of all the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.

Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia and Morocco.

French and Italian foods are so well known in America, it’s almost like we don’t think of them as Mediterranean anymore, even though they are, especially Italy, which as a peninsula is virtually surrounded by the Mediterranean. Though French and Italian foods and to a lesser extent Greek foods have carved out distinct niches of Mediterranean cuisines, Tunisian, Turkish, Lebanese, Morrocan, Egyptian, Spanish cuisine is all Mediterranean cuisine.

At one point the Turkish based Ottoman Empire ruled all the Mediterranean South and East of Greece, that left a common cultural influence. And Spain for about 700 years, was ruled by the Moors, a name for peoples of North Africa and the Middle East.

When we think of Mediterranean we think of these ingredients:

DAIRY

Feta – Though it’s a fresh cheese, like mozzarella, blocks of the white cheese are brined, giving it a characteristic tanginess–just like lemons, sumac, and pomegranate molasses. Depending on the country, feta can be made from sheep’s, goat’s, or cow’s milk, or a combination. (Blog.BlueApron.com)

Yogurt

 VEGETABLES

Grape Leaves

Olives

Lemon

Parsley

Pepperoncinis

Garbanzo Beans

Sesame

 

GRAINS

Rice

Bulgur – Dried Cracked Whole Wheat

Couscous – a North African dish of Semolina (Granules of Durum Wheat) that are cooked by steaming. (Wikipedia/Couscous)

SPICES

Thyme

Dill weed

Cumin

Za’atar is sometimes considered Thyme, other times Oregano, or it can be a blend of spices: reddened with sumac, fragrant with thyme and oregano, bulked up with sesame seeds, and finished off with other dried herbs. (SeriousEats.com 2015/06)

Oregano

Sumac

Mint

Cinnamon

BEANS & SEEDS

Chickpeas

Fava Beans

Sesame Seeds

Hummous – Made from ground Chickpeas and ground Sesame Seeds (Tahini)

MEATS

Lamb

Goat

FRUIT

Pomegranate

 

Wikipedia Map of the Mediterranean Sea

Countries Bordering the Mediterranean Sea