Mediterranean cuisine is linked with healthy living and has been around for as long as people have lived there and where they created food from the natural resources around them. However, it is only as recently as the 1950s that we have merged this entire region under one single cuisine made up of food from many different cultures and countries surrounding the sea. Mediterranean cuisine is high in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, beans, cereals, grains, fish, and unsaturated fats such as olive oil.
The Mediterranean region is often defined as where olives naturally grow, and where the delicious little fruits are considered one of the key components of this cuisine, particularly as olive oil, alongside wheat for bread and pasta and grapes for wine.
The cuisine of Spain, coastal France, Italy, and Greece are some of the first that people consider when talking about Mediterranean food, but it draws flavours from around the entire region including the Balkans, the Levant, the Egyptian and Maghrebi cuisines of North Africa.
The influences, ingredients, and dishes of modern Mediterranean food
Olives, wheat, and grapes were all found in natural abundance throughout the region alongside many vegetables, fish and meats like lamb and chicken which were all used in local cooking. However, over time other cultures have also influenced the flavours of the Mediterranean. Early Arab traders brought with them aubergines, apricots, spinach, sugar, rice, and citrus fruits, and much later both the potato and the tomato were introduced by explorers to the Americas, with the tomato becoming an integral part to many cooked dishes.
As you travel from country to country there are these unifying flavours and ingredients found throughout the type of cooking, but each culture also retains local specialities and favourites. Couscous from North Africa, Moroccan tagine, Egyptian duqqa, tabbouleh and hummus from the Levant area, Turkish borek and Greek moussaka, yoghurt and feta cheese, Italian pasta dishes, Spanish paella, and French salad niçoise; the list of wonderful dishes is endless. Of course, every country and culture also have its own breads, cheeses, favourite vegetables, spices, herbs, and gorgeous wines.
Mediterranean cuisine is considered one of the most diverse in the world and some people who feel you cannot group so much under a single title, but there are those common threads throughout the food that brings it together. There is a pattern of flavours, ingredients, and cooking styles to all these foods that immediately suggest the warm sunshine, azure blue sea, and marketplaces full of fresh high-quality ingredients.
Learn how to bring the wonderful flavours of the Mediterranean into your home.
Growing up on her mother's home-cooked French and Mediterranean food, Chef Eliane has a deep love for the cuisine of the region and has over 20 years’ experience as a top chef for exclusive restaurants and private dining experiences around the French Riviera, including her own multiple award-winning company in Cannes; La Serviette Blanche.
Her expertise is available to you through Born to Taste's hands-on and in-person cooking classes or online.
French and Mediterranean cooking classes are held by Chef Eliane in her own home kitchen in Amsterdam's elegant business district “The Zuidas” and if you are not in Amsterdam join a one-hour online lesson from anywhere in the world.
In each class you will discover some of the most important techniques used in Mediterranean cooking as well as some of the secrets used by Michelin chefs to create truly exceptional flavours in their food. This all with the warm and friendly company of Chef Eliane to guide and teach you.