If you ever spent a summer on the Mediterranean coast, you’re familiar with all the yummy dishes and mouth-watering delicacies the local cuisine has to offer. But what is the Mediterranean cuisine actually? What are the most common ingredients and dishes usually prepared in the Mediterranean? How beneficial for your health is this diet and what should you expect taste-wise if you decide to take the plunge and try the traditional meals in Spain and Italy? Well, we have some answers right here, so keep reading.
When in Rome: The joys of Italian cuisine
Though you probably know that the Western top culinary faves (the beloved pizza and lasagna) come from Italy, you’ll be surprised to hear that there’s much more to Italian cuisine than just some bread, cheese and veggies. Italian traditional meals are usually rather simple to prepare, as the most common dishes use four to eight different foodstuffs, mostly fruit, vegetables, grains, beans and mushrooms, as well as dairy and plant-based products. Meat is not used very often but it does appear as a flavor-adding component in some pasta varieties, beans, sauces, while fish and other sea foods are a regular treat for avid Mediterranean gourmets. If you’re planning to spend your summer on the Italian coast, you will probably be served light dishes like polenta and risotto, scrumptious spaghetti or fusilli pasta with lots of tomato sauce and olive oil, or gnocchi with some ricotta cheese, pesto sauce and oregano. When it comes to desserts and drinks, expect the inevitable tiramisu, cannoli, cassata and some exceptional red wine for afters.
The tastes of wind and sea: Spain for culinary hedonists
With cuisine based mainly on grains, vegetables, beans and some meat, Spanish diet is extremely healthy and highly nutritious, and most regions offer twofold delicacies which vary in the rural and the coastal areas. Spanish cuisine can be said to be tailored to cope with different human needs connected to climate and environmental factors, so carne (meat) is more frequent in rural areas and veggies, fruits, oils and bread are more common along the coast. Some of the best-known Spanish dishes include the famous tortilla and paella, empanada bread, different cheeses and various soups, peppers in all shapes and flavors, hams and sausages, as well as some mouth-watering candies like marzipan, crème brûlée, churros, flan and croquettes.
Health benefits of Mediterranean cuisine
According to recent research, Mediterranean cuisine is extremely beneficial to human health because it includes the most critical diet groups and fresh whole foods often neglected in Western civilizations. Morocco, for instance, does not only offer a range of culinary tidbits and unique flavors to hardcore gourmets and true hedonists, willing to thoroughly indulge themselves during their culinary vacations, but also scientific research has shown that people on the Mediterranean coast live longer and were less prone to serious diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart failures even with relatively high drinking and smoking rates. So, if you want to stay fit and well-nourished, stick to the Mediterranean food-wise – apart from being very refreshing and adequately nutritious, the diet of Spain and Italy is also extremely tasty so you’ll soon find yourself always eager for more of these delicious recipes and unique flavors. Extend your summer diet to the whole year: with Mediterranean dishes, you will never go wrong chef-wise.