In order to be able to have a deeper understanding of the Mediterranean diet it would be good to know where it all started, where the Mediterranean foods, Mediterranean cuisine and Mediterranean diet started.
Mediterranean means the sea in the middle of the earth, in between land. It is considered to be the birthplace of western civilization and the home of many and great nations which flourished along the centuries. It is also the birthplace of Jesus Christ.
There are 21 nations in the Mediterranean Sea, in 3 different continents, two of which span across two continents. The countries the surround the Mediterranean Sea, listed in a clockwise order, are:
In Europe: Spain, France, Monaco, Malta, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Turkey and Cyprus
In Asia: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt
In Africa: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
Please find below a brief overall description of each country in relation to the Mediterranean diet.
Spain: Spain is bordered in the South and East by the Mediterranean Sea and its Mediterranean climate extends from the Andalusia region along the south and eastern coasts up to the Pyrenees Mountains. The cuisine of Mediterranean Spain is very much influenced by seafood, olive oil and cheeses something that reflects the country’s deep Mediterranean roots.
France: France is bordered in the South by the Mediterranean Sea. France has a varying climate with Mediterranean climate prevailing along its south east. French cuisine is renowned in the world and varies a lot along various regions. In the South region use of olive oil prevails reflecting the Mediterranean dietary influence.
Monaco: Monaco is a small state which lies on the northern part of the Mediterranean Sea and has a warm summer Mediterranean climate. The Monaco cuisine is mainly French with Mediterranean influence as far as seafood and olive oil use is concerned.
Malta: Malta is an island-state member of the EU located in the archipelago of the central west part of the Mediterranean Sea. Malta has sub-tropical Mediterranean climate. The Maltese cuisine is typical Mediterranean based on fresh produce and seafood. Olive oil, tomatoes and cheese are widely used and enjoyed in Malta.
Italy: Italy is located in south central Europe and it is mostly, the peninsula and its islands, surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. Italy’s climate varies but it is mostly Mediterranean. Italian cuisine is well known and has been influenced by many factors along the centuries but cheese and wine, Mediterranean diet components/elements, are major parts of it.
Slovenia: Slovenia is country in central Europe bordering the Mediterranean with a climate that varies from region to region with the southern regions, touching the Mediterranean, to enjoy the Mediterranean climate. The Slovenia cuisine is affected by the surrounding countries since Slovenia is a small country, with the Mediterranean cuisine prevailing along the Mediterranean shores.
Croatia: Croatia is a country in Central to South-eastern Europe bordering the Adriatic Sea, part of the Mediterranean Sea. Croatia has a mixture of climates with the Mediterranean climate along the Mediterranean shores. The Croatian cuisine has been influenced by many cultures and its diverse climate with the Mediterranean cuisine prevailing on the shores due to the Mediterranean climate and the influence from the Greeks.
Bosnia-Herzegovina: Bosnia-Herzegovina is in South-eastern Europe with 26km of Mediterranean shores. The South part of the country has Mediterranean climate. Bosnian cuisine is by a large part closely related to the Greek and Turkish cuisines and has a Mediterranean cuisine character.
Montenegro: Montenegro, Black Mountain, is a state in South –Eastern Europe with costs on the Adriatic Sea. Mediterranean climate is the climate along the Mediterranean shores. Montenegrin cuisine is mainly influenced by Greeks, Byzantines and Turks. It is predominantly Mediterranean cuisine with a lot of seafood being a common dish.
Albania: Albania is a country in South Eastern Europe with coasts of a total of about 360Kms on the Adriatic and Ionian seas. The climate of Albania is typically Mediterranean in most parts of the country. The Albanian cuisine is mostly influenced by the Greek cuisine and consists of a lot of vegetables, olive oil and seafood, basic ingredients of the Mediterranean diet.
The remaining of the Mediterranean countries will be briefly analyzed in the second part, Part 2, of the Mediterranean tour.