Chickpea Soup

Mediterranean Food

"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants"

Michael Pollan.  American author, journalist, professor of journalism.  Food activist.

Michael Pollan has, in many interviews, books and articles, said very shrewd things about food. What we eat and how much we eat.

What Is Mediterranean Food?

By “Mediterranean” food most people mean the food of  Italy, Spain, Greece, France (south), Portugal (“honorary” Med). The food of most of the other countries on the Mediterranean have things in common with those countries, but their food is generally less familiar.

The Mediterranean diet contains primarily plant-based foods. Vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans and nuts. Dairy foods are consumed in moderation, mostly in the form of cheese and yogurt. It includes little red meat, but fish and poultry are eaten several times a week. The so-called unhealthy fats, like butter and lard, are replaced by olive oil. Herbs and spices are used more extensively than in the north. There is usually a bottle of wine on the table, but most people limit themselves to one glass and, perhaps, one top-up.

“Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”

Michael Pollan     

Bread is always on the table. When used as a snack or for breakfast it may have olive oil drizzled on to it. Perhaps also a tomato rubbed in.

There is nothing unusual about the foods in a Mediterranean diet. They are the foods commonly eaten in northern Europe as well. But the proportions are changed. In particular,  the Med diet emphasises  vegetables and fruit.

A fundamental feature of a Mediterranean diet is simple cooking and preparation. It, perhaps, includes more herbs and spices than elsewhere, but the accent is on simplicity. Mixed salads are generally on the table, whatever is being eaten. A frequent lunch is a hunk of bread with olive oil and a tomato rubbed in. Perhaps a chunk of cheese and a glass of wine. A piece of fruit to finish.

Each Country Has Its Own "Mediterranean Diet"

The foods shown above are important in the diets of all four countries. (In fact, they were also a big part of the diets of other Med countries.) Then each country has its own peculiarities.

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