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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Basics of Mediterranean Foods

Mediterranean Architecture by Vera Kratochvil
Our ghost post this week highlights Mediterranean cuisine in Boston.

Mediterranean diets have become increasingly more common in recent years, due to studies showing the positive health effects. However, many people are unaware of what Mediterranean food and cuisine entails, let alone a whole diet. There are some typical characteristics of Mediterranean food you can expect to find at restaurants and in homes. and similar restaurant websites feature some of these foods in typical Mediterranean cuisine.

Geographical Location

To better understand what Mediterranean food is, it’s important to understand where the term comes from. Mediterranean food is generally considered food that is consumed in countries around the Mediterranean Sea. However, the healthier foods are usually associated with the Greek island of Crete, as well as foods eaten in Southern Italy and Albania.


Mediterranean cuisine is plant-based with emphasis placed on nuts, grains, beans, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables. Meat is also a part of this diet, but in smaller proportions than Western cooking. It is common to eat seafood and other types of meat, but these are often used to enhance the flavor of the food, such as in sauces. Fats besides olive oil are rarely used. Common foods include legumes, cucumbers, mushrooms, okra, goat cheese, hummus, and olives. It is also common to see red wine consumed moderately.

Mealtime Culture

The mealtime culture of Mediterranean cuisine is much different from Western eating. Emphasis is placed on minimalist cooking, so fresh ingredients are used more often. In addition, meals are a time to relax and enjoy the food. In some Mediterranean countries, meals can last for hours as people enjoy and savor their food.

Health Benefits

There are definite health benefits to eating foods such as those seen on Extensive research has been done not only on the foods associated with Mediterranean diets, but on the impact of the actual eating habits as well. Mediterranean eating can help reduce the rates of cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease. Part of the reason for this is that there are more whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes eaten. Additionally, the omega-3 fatty acids from fish have numerous health benefits.


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