Food. The miraculous word that can make anyone go nuts, whether they are hungry or not. The reason is because there are so many varieties of food served nowadays that one never stops exploring the art of eating. But let’s confess, there comes a time when, you leave the restaurant and regret why you ate so much, that you can’t even walk straight. The uncomfortable feeling of being stuffed, does not only depend on how much a person eats, but also what and what quality of ingredients go into the food we consume on our daily routines.
Different cuisines offer a very diverse mix of ingredients that when combined together can be either very hard or very easy to be consumed by human digestive system. In this issue of our magazine we are going to look into Mediterranean cuisine and see why its combinations of spices and ingredients make the food so tempting, light and healthy. The name of the cuisine that even native people have difficulty to spell, originates from the name of the sea (Mediterranean Sea), meaning “the middle of the land”. It connects countries from three main continents, Europe, Asia and Africa that share many common cultural values, and the cuisine is not an exception. The climate in that part of the world is very mild and beneficial to grow fruits, vegetables and all kinds of spices that give that Mediterranean flavor to the food. The veggies and spices are the most essential parts of the cuisine.
If you visit to any Mediterranean restaurant, there’s a big possibility you are going to see whole olives sticking on top of salads, or added into them. Olive is the symbolic ingredient that is used in different ways. People use olive oil (extra virgin) for salad dressings and as a replacement to corn or sunflower oil. Olive oil has been known for its many health benefits such as reducing cholesterol level in human body and lowering the risks of heart diseases. So if there’s someone in your family experiencing any of these problems, it’s time to switch to extra virgin olive oil.
Garlic! The tiny spice that makes a big change of flavor in any dish it’s used. A clove of garlic full of antioxidants and vitamins is also a good source of cholesterol reduction and high blood pressure. Garlic gives a wonderful flavor to a very well-known Mediterranean salad-the yogurt salad, that is served in almost every Middle Eastern restaurant. Fresh and dried herbs are the other irreplaceable parts of this cuisine and if you are not from that part of the world, you probably haven’t even known about the existence of many of them. Bay leaves, turmeric, thyme, cardamon, basil, cloves, cumin and many other herbs make the dishes smell and taste fresh, crisp as if the dish was just taken from a garden.In Vegas the hot weather can last till the mid of October. That means that besides drinking lots of water and putting our A/C-s till the last bar, we also need to think about having a very light diet in order to escape stomach cramps and long digestion process.
Tabbouleh, a very popular Mediterranean salad can be a perfect choice for keeping a full stomach with a very light, healthy and delicious combination of ingredients. It has lots of greens, lemon juice, bulgur (type of wheat) and veggies, seasoned with dry herbs and sea salt. After this, you can forget about heavy food that cause stomach burns and wasting money to get medication for it.
Many of the popular dishes are made in most of the Mediterranean countries and sometimes it’s very confusing to really know which national culture that dish is originating from. For example, the stuffed vegetables, another way known as dolma (or sarma) is seen in Greek, Armenian, Turkish, Iranian and few other countries’ cuisines. Even though, each nation makes them a little differently, the concept still remains the same. In this case, it never hurts to try all the kinds to see which one is your favorite.
If you’re not from The Middle East, you probably won’t know how people pickle veggies or even what veggies they pickle. Pickling, in my country where I was born and raised, was a huge deal, involving buying enormous amounts of veggies in fall and getting ready for winter. Our people would pickle even the stuff that you might think is “unpickleable”. For example apples, watermelon, pears, beets, etc. The most common ones are cucumber, cabbage, carrot and celery. They are usually stuffed in around 10 gallon jars, because they run out very fast, and sometimes no one has the patience and a closed mouth to wait for the winter in order to taste them. In addition to their great taste, pickles are very healthy. My grandma would force every member of our family to drink pickle juice, saying that it helps to clean your digestive system, fixes stomach cramps, and it’s even good for people who have history of high blood sugar level.
So whether you’re a meat lover, someone who doesn’t cook, who loves to eat outside, or maybe has any of the health conditions mentioned above, go Mediterranean style. Take a break from all those heavy foods that will leave you with stomach burns and make you sleepy. Believe me, it feels very good when you know that you can cure yourself in natural ways escaping all kinds of pills and medications. My grandma would always tell me “There’s no better place than home”, so I’m taking her advice today and advise you to make Mediterranean cuisine your home, home that will make your day go yum yum.