The Mediterranean Cuisine – The History of a Common Origin.

The origin of the Mediterranean Cuisine dates back to ancient Egypt, a civilization that developed between 3000 BC and fourth centuries A.D. This extraordinary culture was the first to promote an intensive and systematic cultivation of cereals, mainly wheat, but also millet, barley and rye. In addition to bread, another of the great contributions to world cuisine was the beer, which was practically the “national” drink, and that with legumes, bread and onions, was the staple food of the Egyptians.

·        Food of the Gods.

Greeks and Romans interpreted the world and natural phenomena through mythology, while at the same time asking the supernatural for protection. One of the main Gods for the Greeks was Demeter (Ceres for the Romans), the goddess of agriculture and, in particular, of the grain. Artemis (Diana, in Roman mythology) was the goddess of hunting and of the woods, and was depicted armed with bows and arrows and accompanied by a deer. Even the wine, so much appreciated in both cultures, was identified with the God Dionysus in Greece and Bacchus in Rome. It was a God with two personalities: on some occasions was represented as a farmer and a moderate drinker, in other – when he in relation with the underworld – as a libertine, wild lover of night dancing.

·        The classical cultures.

Cradle of great artists and philosophers, classical Greece is also the place of origin of the trilogy consisting of bread, oil and wine, which are the base of the basic Mediterranean cuisine. The Greeks discovered the oil and used it as a condiment, but also as a body balm and as a fuel for lighting. Their wine, which they mixed with water, resin or with herbs, was famous throughout the Mediterranean. The bread, for the Greeks, was the staple food and they created as many as 72 varieties.

·        Sophistication.

The Greeks were also responsible for the delicacy and sophistication of the culinary art, achieved through the use of seasoning and herbs. The Greeks invented the concept of dieting. The “diaita” or way of life, sought a balance between the body and the spirit. Although the Greeks would follow medical advice, each person decided which foods and exercises where the most beneficial, through the observation of their body. For this reason, they identified the Gods with the natural phenomena and everyday activities. The Magna Grecia was the home of Archestratus of Gela, the first writer of culinary history. This “gourmet” of the fifth century BC wrote the poem Gastronomy, a compendium of the kitchen of the time.

·        The Roman Empire.

Rome, as for the rest of his culture, followed the path traced by the Greeks even for their cuisine, perfecting it with the improvement of the cultivation of vine and olives. Thanks to its vast empire, Rome spread new foods, such as lemon, fish and melon.

·        Arrived from the New World.

The discovery of America represented the integration of new foods in the Mediterranean cuisine. Among the products that stand out the most were red peppers and beans, a legume fundamental in the Mediterranean, from the nineteenth century onwards. Also deserves a special mention the tomato, which together with the potato is now the essential protagonist of the Italian and Spanish cuisines.