The Mediterranean region is renowned for its delicious and diverse cuisine, which offers a wide range of flavors and culinary traditions. However, the ethnic classification of Mediterranean food remains a topic of debate. While some consider it a type of ethnic cuisine, others argue that it is not, due to its widespread popularity and adaptation across the world. In this article, we will explore the culinary history and cultural influences of Mediterranean cuisine, and determine whether it can be classified as ethnic food. So, let’s dive in and explore the fascinating world of Mediterranean cuisine!
The Mediterranean Diet: A Brief Overview
The Origin and History of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating that has been followed by people living around the Mediterranean Sea for centuries. It is based on the traditional foods and cooking methods of countries such as Italy, Greece, Spain, and France. The Mediterranean diet has been studied extensively and has been found to be associated with a number of health benefits, including a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
The exact origins of the Mediterranean diet are difficult to pinpoint, as it has evolved over time and has been influenced by a variety of cultures. However, it is believed to have its roots in the agricultural societies of ancient Greece and Rome, where people relied on fresh fruits, vegetables, and grains for their meals. The diet was also influenced by the cuisine of the Middle East, which was introduced to the Mediterranean region through trade and cultural exchange.
Over time, the Mediterranean diet has been adapted and modified by different cultures, leading to the development of a wide variety of traditional dishes and cooking methods. For example, in Italy, the Mediterranean diet is characterized by dishes such as pasta with tomato sauce, grilled vegetables, and fresh seafood. In Greece, it is known for dishes such as moussaka, tzatziki, and grilled meat. In Spain, it is associated with dishes such as paella, tapas, and gazpacho.
Despite these variations, the core principles of the Mediterranean diet have remained relatively consistent over time. It is a diet that emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats. It also places a strong emphasis on moderation and balance, with no single food or ingredient being considered “off-limits.” Instead, people are encouraged to enjoy a variety of foods in moderation, and to consume them in a way that is enjoyable and sustainable over the long term.
Characteristics of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet is a plant-based diet that emphasizes whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and healthy fats such as olive oil. It is also rich in lean protein sources such as fish, poultry, and dairy products. The diet is low in red meat and processed foods. It also encourages moderate consumption of alcohol, particularly red wine, which is believed to have health benefits. The diet is known for its emphasis on fresh, whole foods and its lack of processed and packaged foods. Additionally, it is known for its emphasis on eating meals together with family and friends, which has been shown to have positive effects on mental and physical health.
Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet has been associated with numerous health benefits, making it one of the most popular and well-studied dietary patterns in the world. Some of the key health benefits associated with the Mediterranean diet include:
- Reduced risk of heart disease: The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering levels of LDL cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, and increasing levels of HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol. This is largely due to the high consumption of monounsaturated fats found in foods such as olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
- Lowered risk of type 2 diabetes: Studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by improving insulin sensitivity and reducing inflammation in the body.
- Improved brain health: The Mediterranean diet has been linked to improved brain health and a reduced risk of cognitive decline, including Alzheimer’s disease. This is largely due to the high consumption of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.
- Improved gut health: The Mediterranean diet has been shown to improve gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract. This can lead to improved digestion, reduced inflammation, and a stronger immune system.
- Increased longevity: Studies have shown that people who follow a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of premature death from any cause, including heart disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases.
Overall, the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are numerous and diverse, making it a popular choice for those looking to improve their overall health and wellbeing.
Mediterranean Food: Ethnic or Not?
Defining Ethnic Food
- Ethnic food is often defined as cuisine that originates from a specific cultural or ethnic group.
- These dishes are typically associated with a particular region or country and reflect the unique ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques of that culture.
- Ethnic food can also be characterized by its distinctiveness and uniqueness, often reflecting a specific history, tradition, or identity.
- However, it is important to note that the concept of ethnic food is not fixed and can vary depending on the context and cultural perspective.
- Additionally, some scholars argue that the term “ethnic” itself is problematic, as it can perpetuate stereotypes and essentialize cultural identity.
- Therefore, it is important to approach the classification of Mediterranean cuisine as ethnic food with nuance and sensitivity to its complex history and diversity.
Mediterranean Food in the Context of Ethnic Cuisine
Mediterranean cuisine has been widely recognized as one of the healthiest and most delicious culinary traditions in the world. However, there is ongoing debate about whether Mediterranean food should be classified as ethnic cuisine.
To understand this debate, it is important to define what is meant by “ethnic cuisine.” In general, ethnic cuisine refers to the traditional foods and cooking techniques of a particular cultural or ethnic group. This can include a wide range of dishes and ingredients, as well as unique preparation methods and cooking techniques.
When it comes to Mediterranean cuisine, there are a few factors to consider. First, the Mediterranean region is home to a diverse array of cultures and ethnic groups, including Greeks, Italians, Spaniards, and others. Each of these groups has its own unique culinary traditions and dishes, which can be classified as ethnic cuisine.
However, it is also worth noting that Mediterranean cuisine has been heavily influenced by the region’s climate and geography. The Mediterranean is known for its abundance of fresh seafood, olive oil, and other ingredients, which are used extensively in the region’s traditional dishes. This has led some to argue that Mediterranean cuisine should be considered a “cuisine of the region” rather than a specific ethnic cuisine.
Ultimately, the classification of Mediterranean cuisine as ethnic or not may come down to personal opinion and cultural context. However, it is clear that Mediterranean cuisine is a rich and diverse culinary tradition that is deeply rooted in the region’s history and culture.
Cultural Significance of Mediterranean Food
The cultural significance of Mediterranean food is a topic that has received considerable attention in recent years. This section will explore the various ways in which Mediterranean food is intertwined with the cultures and traditions of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea.
One aspect of the cultural significance of Mediterranean food is its role in the social and family gatherings of the region. In many Mediterranean countries, meals are often prepared and enjoyed together as a family or with friends, and the food itself plays a central role in these gatherings. This emphasis on communal dining is a reflection of the strong social bonds that are characteristic of Mediterranean cultures.
Another aspect of the cultural significance of Mediterranean food is its role in religious and spiritual practices. Many Mediterranean dishes are associated with specific religious holidays or traditions, and the preparation and consumption of these dishes is often seen as a way of honoring and celebrating these traditions. For example, in Greece, Easter is marked by the consumption of a traditional sweet bread called “tsoureki,” which is flavored with orange and sesame seeds.
Finally, the cultural significance of Mediterranean food is also reflected in the use of specific ingredients and culinary techniques that are unique to the region. These ingredients and techniques have been passed down through generations and are seen as an important part of the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean countries. For example, the use of olive oil as a primary cooking ingredient is a hallmark of Mediterranean cuisine, and the use of fresh, locally-sourced ingredients is also a key characteristic of the region’s cooking.
Overall, the cultural significance of Mediterranean food is a complex and multifaceted topic that reflects the rich cultural traditions and heritage of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Whether it is being enjoyed during family gatherings, religious holidays, or everyday meals, Mediterranean food plays an important role in the social, religious, and cultural lives of the people in the region.
Examining the Ethnic Roots of Mediterranean Cuisine
Influence of Mediterranean Countries on Mediterranean Cuisine
Mediterranean cuisine is a complex tapestry of flavors and culinary traditions, influenced by the diverse cultures and histories of the countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The region’s cuisine has been shaped by a rich tapestry of cultural exchange, as well as by the unique natural resources of the Mediterranean basin. This section will explore the influence of Mediterranean countries on Mediterranean cuisine, and how each country’s unique history and cultural identity has contributed to the development of the region’s culinary traditions.
Italy is widely regarded as the birthplace of Mediterranean cuisine, with its rich culinary traditions and world-renowned dishes such as pasta, pizza, and gelato. Italian cuisine is heavily influenced by the country’s regional differences, with each region boasting its own unique culinary traditions and specialties. Italian cuisine is known for its emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients, and for its use of herbs and spices to add flavor and depth to dishes.
Greek cuisine is characterized by its simplicity, freshness, and bold flavors. Greek dishes often feature ingredients such as olive oil, lemon, garlic, and oregano, which are grown in abundance in the country’s fertile landscape. Greek cuisine also places a strong emphasis on seafood, with fish and shellfish playing a prominent role in many traditional Greek dishes.
Spanish cuisine is a diverse and complex tapestry of flavors and culinary traditions, influenced by the country’s long history and cultural exchange with other regions of the world. Spanish cuisine is known for its use of olive oil, as well as for its world-renowned dishes such as paella and tapas. Spanish cuisine also places a strong emphasis on seafood, with the country’s long coastline providing an abundance of fresh, delicious seafood.
Turkish cuisine is a rich and varied tapestry of flavors and culinary traditions, influenced by the country’s diverse history and cultural exchange with other regions of the world. Turkish cuisine is known for its use of fresh, flavorful ingredients, as well as for its unique spices and herbs, such as cumin, paprika, and saffron. Turkish cuisine also places a strong emphasis on meat dishes, with lamb, beef, and chicken playing a prominent role in many traditional Turkish recipes.
In conclusion, the influence of Mediterranean countries on Mediterranean cuisine is a complex and multifaceted story, shaped by each country’s unique history, cultural identity, and natural resources. From Italy’s world-renowned dishes to Greece’s bold flavors, from Spain’s olive oil-based cuisine to Turkey’s unique spices and herbs, the diversity of Mediterranean cuisine is a testament to the rich cultural exchange and culinary traditions of the region.
Influence of Colonization on Mediterranean Cuisine
The impact of colonization on Mediterranean cuisine is a complex interplay of cultural exchange, trade, and social dynamics. Over the centuries, the region has been influenced by various civilizations, each leaving its mark on the local culinary traditions. In this section, we will delve into the specific ways in which colonization has influenced Mediterranean cuisine, focusing on the exchange of ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavor profiles.
- Ingredient Exchange: The colonization of the Mediterranean region by various empires, such as the Romans, Greeks, and Arabs, facilitated the exchange of ingredients between different cultures. For example, the Arab conquest of the Iberian Peninsula introduced the cultivation of citrus fruits, spices, and herbs to the region, which subsequently influenced the local cuisine. Similarly, the spread of the Ottoman Empire across the eastern Mediterranean introduced new ingredients like eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes to the region.
- Cooking Techniques: The colonization of the Mediterranean region also led to the exchange of cooking techniques and culinary practices. For instance, the Romans introduced the concept of preserving food by canning, which was later adopted by the Greeks and other cultures in the region. Additionally, the Moors introduced the use of sugar in cooking to the Iberian Peninsula, which subsequently influenced the cuisine of neighboring countries.
- Flavor Profiles: The colonization of the Mediterranean region led to the fusion of different flavor profiles, resulting in a diverse array of dishes. For example, the blending of Arab, Berber, and Moorish influences in the Iberian Peninsula gave rise to dishes like paella, which incorporates rice, saffron, and a variety of meats and seafood. Similarly, the fusion of Ottoman and Mediterranean cuisines resulted in the creation of dishes like moussaka, which combines eggplant, minced meat, and a rich tomato sauce.
In conclusion, the influence of colonization on Mediterranean cuisine is a complex interplay of cultural exchange, trade, and social dynamics. Through the exchange of ingredients, cooking techniques, and flavor profiles, the region’s culinary traditions have evolved and diversified over time, resulting in the rich and vibrant cuisine that we know today.
The Role of Migration in Shaping Mediterranean Cuisine
The migration of people throughout history has significantly influenced the development of Mediterranean cuisine. The region’s diverse cultures and civilizations have interacted, blending their culinary traditions, resulting in a rich and varied cuisine. This section will delve into the role of migration in shaping Mediterranean cuisine, focusing on the movement of people, the exchange of ingredients, and the evolution of recipes.
- Movement of People:
- Throughout history, the Mediterranean region has experienced significant population movements, with various groups migrating to and from the region. For example, the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans were among the first civilizations to trade and migrate across the Mediterranean.
- The Islamic conquest of the 7th century brought Arab and Berber peoples to the region, further enriching the culinary landscape. The Moors, for instance, introduced citrus fruits, spices, and sugar to Spain, significantly impacting Spanish cuisine.
- In the Middle Ages, the Crusades led to the exchange of culinary ideas between the Christian and Muslim worlds. Crusaders brought back new ingredients, such as sugar and rice, from their travels to the Holy Land, which were then incorporated into European cuisine.
- Exchange of Ingredients:
- The movement of people has facilitated the exchange of ingredients between different cultures, resulting in a diverse range of flavors and culinary techniques. For example, the introduction of tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes from the New World to Europe revolutionized Mediterranean cuisine, allowing for the development of new dishes like paella and pizza.
- The spice trade also played a crucial role in shaping Mediterranean cuisine. Spices such as cinnamon, saffron, and nutmeg were brought to the region by merchants from Asia and Africa, adding aromatic depth and flavor to local dishes.
- Evolution of Recipes:
- Migration has influenced the evolution of recipes in Mediterranean cuisine. As people from different cultures interacted and shared culinary traditions, recipes evolved and adapted to incorporate new ingredients and techniques.
- For instance, the fusion of Arab and Spanish cuisines in the Iberian Peninsula led to the development of dishes like the cocido, a hearty stew made with chickpeas, meat, and vegetables. Similarly, the influence of North African cuisine on Sicilian cuisine can be seen in dishes like pasta alla Norma, featuring eggplant, tomatoes, and ricotta salata.
In conclusion, the role of migration in shaping Mediterranean cuisine is evident in the diverse ingredients, techniques, and dishes found throughout the region. As people have migrated and interacted, they have shared their culinary traditions, resulting in a rich and varied cuisine that continues to evolve and adapt to this day.
Culinary Diversity Within the Mediterranean Region
Regional Variations of Mediterranean Cuisine
Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by its diversity, with each region contributing its unique flavors and culinary traditions to the larger Mediterranean cuisine. This section will explore the regional variations of Mediterranean cuisine, highlighting the distinct flavors and ingredients that define each region’s culinary identity.
The French Mediterranean
The French Mediterranean region is known for its rich, flavorful dishes that incorporate fresh seafood, olive oil, and herbs. Some of the most popular dishes in this region include bouillabaisse, a seafood soup from Marseille, and ratatouille, a vegetable stew made with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, and onions.
The Italian Mediterranean
Italian Mediterranean cuisine is famous for its use of fresh pasta, seafood, and olive oil. Some of the most popular dishes in this region include pizza, pasta with marinara sauce, and risotto alla Milanese, a saffron-infused rice dish.
The Spanish Mediterranean
Spanish Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by its use of fresh seafood, olive oil, and spices. Some of the most popular dishes in this region include paella, a rice dish with seafood and chicken, and tapas, a collection of small dishes that can include anything from olives to grilled octopus.
The Turkish Mediterranean
Turkish Mediterranean cuisine is known for its use of fresh vegetables, herbs, and spices, as well as its unique blend of Turkish and Mediterranean flavors. Some of the most popular dishes in this region include hummus, a puree of chickpeas, and baklava, a sweet pastry made with layers of phyllo dough and honey.
The Greek Mediterranean
Greek Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by its use of fresh seafood, olive oil, and herbs. Some of the most popular dishes in this region include moussaka, a layered dish made with eggplant, minced meat, and béchamel sauce, and gyros, a wrap made with thinly sliced meat, tomato, onion, and tzatziki sauce.
The North African Mediterranean
North African Mediterranean cuisine is known for its use of spices, such as cumin and coriander, as well as its unique blend of Mediterranean and African flavors. Some of the most popular dishes in this region include couscous, a North African staple made with semolina grains, and tagine, a slow-cooked stew made with meat or vegetables and spices.
In conclusion, the regional variations of Mediterranean cuisine showcase the diversity and richness of the cuisine, with each region contributing its unique flavors and culinary traditions to the larger Mediterranean cuisine.
Influence of Religion on Mediterranean Cuisine
Religion has played a significant role in shaping the culinary landscape of the Mediterranean region. The region is home to several religions, including Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, each of which has contributed to the development of unique culinary traditions.
One of the most significant contributions of religion to Mediterranean cuisine is the dietary restrictions imposed by different faiths. For example, Jews follow the kosher dietary laws, which prohibit the consumption of certain foods, such as pork and shellfish. Similarly, Muslims follow the halal dietary laws, which prohibit the consumption of alcohol and pork, and require the slaughter of animals in a specific manner. These dietary restrictions have led to the development of specialized cuisines within the Mediterranean region, such as kosher and halal cuisines.
In addition to dietary restrictions, religion has also influenced the use of ingredients in Mediterranean cuisine. For example, Christianity has played a significant role in the development of the use of olive oil, which is seen as a symbol of abundance and prosperity. Olive oil is widely used in Mediterranean cuisine, and is often used as a base for salads, dressings, and sauces.
Islam has also influenced the use of spices in Mediterranean cuisine. Spices such as cinnamon, saffron, and turmeric are commonly used in Mediterranean dishes, and are believed to have medicinal properties. These spices are also used to add flavor and aroma to dishes, and are seen as a way to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Overall, religion has played a significant role in shaping the culinary diversity of the Mediterranean region. Dietary restrictions and the use of ingredients have contributed to the development of unique culinary traditions, and have helped to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the region.
Culinary Traditions and their Impact on Mediterranean Cuisine
The Mediterranean region is a melting pot of diverse cultures, each contributing to the rich tapestry of culinary traditions that define the Mediterranean cuisine. These culinary traditions have evolved over centuries, shaped by historical events, geography, and social interactions. This section will delve into the various culinary traditions that have influenced Mediterranean cuisine and examine their impact on the region’s culinary landscape.
The Role of Historical Events in Shaping Mediterranean Cuisine
Historical events have played a significant role in shaping the culinary traditions of the Mediterranean region. The region has been the crossroads of civilizations, with cultures and empires rising and falling, each leaving its mark on the local cuisine. For instance, the influence of the Roman Empire can be seen in the widespread use of olive oil, garlic, and herbs in Mediterranean cooking. Similarly, the Islamic conquest of the region introduced new spices and flavors, such as cinnamon, saffron, and nutmeg, which were incorporated into local cuisines.
The Impact of Geography on Mediterranean Cuisine
The geography of the Mediterranean region has also significantly influenced its culinary traditions. The region’s diverse landscape, with its long coastlines, fertile plains, and rugged mountains, has given rise to a variety of crops, vegetables, fruits, and herbs that are central to Mediterranean cuisine. The availability of fresh seafood and fish has also played a significant role in shaping the region’s culinary traditions, with many dishes featuring seafood as a primary ingredient.
The Influence of Social Interactions on Mediterranean Cuisine
Social interactions among the diverse cultures of the Mediterranean region have also contributed to the development of its culinary traditions. The region’s history of trade, migration, and colonization has led to the exchange of ingredients, techniques, and flavors, resulting in a rich and varied culinary landscape. For example, the introduction of tomatoes from the New World to Italy led to the development of tomato-based sauces, which have become a staple of Italian cuisine.
In conclusion, the culinary traditions of the Mediterranean region have been shaped by a complex interplay of historical events, geography, and social interactions. These traditions have given rise to a rich and diverse culinary landscape, with each country contributing its unique flavors, ingredients, and techniques to the overall Mediterranean cuisine. Understanding the impact of these culinary traditions is essential for classifying Mediterranean cuisine accurately and appreciating its cultural significance.
The Complexity of Ethnic Classification in the Context of Mediterranean Cuisine
- Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by a diverse array of flavors, spices, and culinary techniques, reflecting the region’s rich cultural heritage and historical influences.
- However, the ethnic classification of Mediterranean cuisine is a complex and nuanced topic, as the region encompasses a wide range of cultures, languages, and traditions.
- This complexity arises from the fact that the Mediterranean region is home to a multitude of ethnic groups, each with their own unique culinary traditions and practices.
- Furthermore, the region has been influenced by a variety of cultures, including ancient Greek, Roman, and Ottoman, as well as more recent influences from France, Italy, and Spain.
- As a result, it can be challenging to classify Mediterranean cuisine into a single ethnic category, as it encompasses a wide range of culinary traditions and influences.
- In conclusion, the complexity of ethnic classification in the context of Mediterranean cuisine highlights the region’s rich cultural diversity and the importance of understanding the unique culinary traditions of each ethnic group within the region.
Embracing the Richness and Diversity of Mediterranean Cuisine
Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by its rich and diverse culinary heritage, which reflects the region’s unique history, culture, and geography. This section will explore the richness and diversity of Mediterranean cuisine, highlighting the different ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques that make it so unique.
One of the defining features of Mediterranean cuisine is its emphasis on fresh, high-quality ingredients. Fresh produce, such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and cucumbers, are staples of the region’s cuisine, and are often used in a variety of dishes, from salads to stews. In addition, herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme are also used extensively, adding flavor and depth to many Mediterranean dishes.
The region’s location on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea also means that seafood plays a significant role in Mediterranean cuisine. Fresh fish and shellfish are often grilled or baked, and are used in a variety of dishes, from simple seafood salads to elaborate seafood stews.
Mediterranean cuisine is also known for its use of olive oil, which is a staple ingredient in many dishes. Olive oil is used to cook vegetables, meat, and seafood, and is also used as a condiment to drizzle over finished dishes. In addition, Mediterranean cuisine is also known for its use of legumes, such as lentils, chickpeas, and beans, which are often used in soups, stews, and salads.
Another important aspect of Mediterranean cuisine is its use of spices and herbs, which are used to add flavor and depth to dishes. Some of the most commonly used spices and herbs in Mediterranean cuisine include cinnamon, cumin, coriander, paprika, and saffron. These spices and herbs are used in a variety of dishes, from meat and seafood to vegetables and grains.
Overall, the richness and diversity of Mediterranean cuisine make it a fascinating topic for culinary analysis. With its emphasis on fresh, high-quality ingredients, seafood, olive oil, legumes, and spices, Mediterranean cuisine offers a wide range of flavors and techniques that are sure to inspire any chef or food enthusiast.
1. What is Mediterranean food?
Mediterranean food is a culinary style that originated in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, including Italy, Greece, Spain, France, and countries in North Africa and the Middle East. It is characterized by its emphasis on fresh, flavorful ingredients, such as olive oil, fresh herbs, tomatoes, and grains, and is often accompanied by rich, savory flavors.
2. Is Mediterranean food considered ethnic food?
Yes, Mediterranean food is considered ethnic food. It is a unique and distinct culinary style that has developed over centuries in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Mediterranean cuisine is characterized by its use of fresh, flavorful ingredients, such as olive oil, fresh herbs, tomatoes, and grains, and is often accompanied by rich, savory flavors. It is an important part of the cultural identity of the countries in which it originated and is widely recognized as a distinct ethnic cuisine.
3. What are some popular Mediterranean dishes?
Some popular Mediterranean dishes include pizza, pasta, paella, tabbouleh, hummus, baba ghanoush, and dolmas. These dishes are made with fresh, flavorful ingredients and are often accompanied by rich, savory flavors. Mediterranean cuisine is known for its emphasis on fresh, flavorful ingredients, such as olive oil, fresh herbs, tomatoes, and grains, and is widely recognized as a distinct ethnic cuisine.
4. How has Mediterranean food influenced other cuisines?
Mediterranean food has had a significant influence on other cuisines around the world. Many popular dishes in other cuisines, such as pizza and pasta in Italian-American cuisine, have their roots in Mediterranean cuisine. The emphasis on fresh, flavorful ingredients, such as olive oil, fresh herbs, tomatoes, and grains, has also influenced the development of other cuisines. Mediterranean cuisine is an important part of the cultural identity of the countries in which it originated and is widely recognized as a distinct ethnic cuisine.