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Mediterranean cuisine

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mediterranean cuisine

Mediterranean cuisine is more than a collection of dishes; it is a culinary journey that captures the essence of the Mediterranean region. Known for its vibrant flavours, fresh ingredients and health benefits, this culinary tradition has delighted palates around the world.

Join us on a gastronomic adventure exploring the rich history, key ingredients, popular Mediterranean dishes and cultural significance of Mediterranean cuisine.


The fabric of culinary traditions


Spanning three continents and encompassing countries such as Greece, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Lebanon and Morocco, Mediterranean cuisine is a beautiful tapestry of culinary traditions shaped by centuries of cultural exchange and trade. Each region adds its own unique character, allowing a diversity of flavours, textures and cooking techniques to intermingle harmoniously.

One of the characteristic aspects of Mediterranean cuisine is the focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients and the abundant use of plant-based foods. The Mediterranean diet has gained international recognition for its health benefits, including reducing the risk of heart disease, promoting longevity and supporting overall well-being. The Mediterranean diet focuses on whole-grain cereals, legumes, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts and seeds.


Key ingredients and flavours


Often referred to as ''liquid gold'', olive oil is an essential ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine. Used as a base for cooking, dressing salads or dipping bread, it adds a characteristic richness and depth to dishes. Fresh herbs such as basil, oregano, rosemary and thyme are used generously to add flavour to sauces, marinades and stews.


Vegetables play a central role in Mediterranean cuisine, with tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, peppers and artichokes taking centre stage. These vibrant and versatile ingredients find their way into soups, stews, roasts and salads.


Seafood is abundant in coastal regions and offers a range of flavours and textures. From succulent grilled fish to seafood paella, Mediterranean cuisine showcases the richness of the sea. The combination of lemon, garlic and herb flavours enhances the natural taste of seafood.


Cheese and yoghurt also have a special place in Mediterranean cuisine. Greek feta cheese, Italian mozzarella and Cypriot halloumi are just a few examples. Meze adds a creamy and tangy dimension to salads, pastries and plates. Yoghurt, often enjoyed as a refreshing dipping sauce or dipping, provides a cooling balance for more savoury dishes.


Cultural significance and social eating


Mediterranean cuisine is more than just food; it is a way of life and reflects the cultural and social fabric of the region. Meals are often a communal experience where family and friends gather to share stories, laughter and flavours. Mediterranean culture encourages a slower pace of eating, savouring every mouthful and valuing the company at the table. The tradition of mezze, an assortment of small dishes served as starters or tapas, is an example of this convivial way of eating.


Popular Mediterranean dishes


Moussaka: An iconic Greek dish, it is a culinary masterpiece that takes you on a journey through layers of delicious flavours. Imagine: tender slices of aubergine bathed in olive oil and roasted until they melt in your mouth. Between these velvety layers is a savoury mix of minced lamb or beef, sautéed onions and aromatic herbs, cooked to perfection in a rich tomato sauce. The layers, crowned with a creamy béchamel sauce and sprinkled with a dusting of nutmeg, are then baked until golden brown. Each mouthful offers a symphony of textures and a harmony of flavours.


Paella: Imagine yourself basking under the warm rays of the Mediterranean sun, while the enticing aromas of rice with saffron waft through the air. This is the essence of paella, Spain''s culinary gift to the world. In this vibrant dish, short-grain rice is the foundation, absorbing the essence of the mix of flavours. Succulent prawns, tender chicken and smoky chorizo combine perfectly with peppers, onions and peas to create a tapestry of colours and textures. The secret ingredient is saffron, which adds a golden colour and delicate fragrance to the rice.


Tabouleh: A refreshing Lebanese salad, it is an assemblage of the vibrant flavours of the Mediterranean. Imagine for a moment a mound of fragrant bulgur wheat, sprinkled with finely chopped parsley, mint and vibrant tomatoes. The citrus of lemon juice and the silky embrace of olive oil combine to create a light and tangy dressing. As you eat, feel the crunch of the diced cucumbers and the mild spiciness of the green onions. Each mouthful is a burst of freshness that harmonises the crunch of the vegetables with the herbal symphony of flavours. Tabouleh is not just a salad - it is a culinary ode to the vitality and vigour of Mediterranean cuisine.


Baklava: Baklava, a pastry with roots in the Middle East and Greece, is a culinary masterpiece that delights dessert lovers around the world. Imagine layers and layers of paper-thin phyllo dough, carefully coated with melted butter, surrounding a luscious filling of finely chopped nuts - usually walnuts, pistachios or almonds - combined with a sweet mixture of honey, cinnamon and aromatic spices. This tempting creation, which is golden-baked, is then topped with a fragrant honey syrup that fills every nook and cranny with sumptuous sweetness. Each mouthful of baklava reveals a wonderful crunch, a richness of layers and a harmony of flavours that transport you to the heart of the Mediterranean.


Tagine: A popular and delicious Mediterranean dish, named after the unique clay pot in which it is cooked, called a ''tagine''. This traditional North African dish is a slow-cooked stew combining aromatic spices, tender meat and a variety of vegetables.

The key ingredient in Moroccan tagine is a blend of spices that gives it a distinctive flavour. Cumin, coriander, turmeric, paprika, ginger, cinnamon and saffron are commonly used in Moroccan cuisine. These spices create a rich and fragrant base for the dish.

Traditionally, tagines are made with meat such as lamb, chicken or beef. But it also includes a colourful array of vegetables: onions, tomatoes, carrots, courgettes, aubergines and potatoes. The dish also includes prunes, apricots, raisins or dates, which add a delicate sweetness.


Indispensable Mediterranean spices


Mediterranean cuisine is known for its lively and aromatic flavours, which are largely due to the variety of spices and herbs used in the region. These spices play an important role in enhancing the flavour and aroma of Mediterranean dishes, creating a wonderful culinary experience. Here are some of the most common spices found in Mediterranean cuisine:

Basil

This versatile herb is widely used in Mediterranean cuisine, especially in Italian dishes. It has a sweet and slightly pungent flavour that adds freshness to salads, pasta sauces and pesto.


Origano

Used as a seasoning for all kinds of vegetables, it is a staple of Greek and Italian cuisine. It has a strong earthy flavour. It is often used in tomato dishes, in seasoning grilled meats and in Mediterranean herb mixtures.


Rosemary

It has a distinctive blueberry-like scent and adds a spicy, fragrant flavour to Mediterranean dishes. It goes well with roasted meats, potatoes, breads and marinades.


Thyme

A versatile herb used in Mediterranean cuisine. It complements many dishes including roasted vegetables, grilled meats, soups and stews.


Parsley

This vibrant herb is often used as a garnish in Mediterranean dishes as it adds freshness and a delicate flavour. Flat-leaved parsley has the advantage of a stronger flavour and is often used in tabbouleh, salads and herb sauces.


Cumin

Often used in Middle Eastern and North African cuisine. It has a characteristic slightly nutty flavour. It is a key spice in spice mixes such as ras el hanout and adds depth to dishes such as hummus, falafel and couscous.


Coriander

Coriander seeds and leaves are used in Mediterranean cuisine. The seeds have a citrus and slightly spicy flavour, while the leaves (known as coriander) add a fresh and lively taste to dishes such as salami, salads or curries.


Sweet paprika

This bright red spice is made from dried and ground sweet peppers. It adds a mild and slightly sweet flavour to Mediterranean dishes such as paella, stews and marinades.


Saffron

Known as the world''s most expensive spice, saffron is highly prized for its unique flavour and vibrant golden colour. It has a distinct floral, slightly bitter taste and is used in dishes such as paella, risotto and various desserts.


Sumac

A spicy lemony spice widely used in Middle Eastern cuisine. It adds a spicy flavour to salads, roasted meats and grilled vegetables. Sumac is also sprinkled on sauces such as hummus and yoghurt.



These are just a few examples of the different spices used in Mediterranean cuisine. Each spice has its own unique flavour and aroma, allowing professional or amateur chefs to create delicious and memorable dishes that reflect the vibrant culinary traditions of the Mediterranean region.


BAM spices was created with the desire to offer you spice blends of the highest quality. From now on, your savoury and sweet dishes should smell of the subtle flavours of spices. Become a master of creating superb dishes!

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