Has the Mediterranean cuisine lost its authenticity?

Mediterranean cuisine

The Mediterranean cuisine is shifting away from tradition

The Mediterranean Sea touches three different continents: Asia, Africa and Europe, influencing their climate and way of life, bringing together different cultures linked by traditions that are similar in many ways. And the traditional Mediterranean cuisine is probably the most interesting example of the similarities among these countries. Thanks to the mild temperatures that characterize the countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, it is possible not only to grow fruit, vegetables, cereals and olives, but also to spend more time outdoors in the sunlight, a fundamental element to improve people’s psychophysical wellbeing. Prolonged exposure to sunlight increases the production of serotonin, a hormone involved in mood regulation. In addition, the sun rays cause the activation of pro-vitamin D into its active form.

Many are the points of contact between the different dietary models adopted by the people living on the shores of Mare Nostrum, many of which make it possible to trace a fairly precise identity of this common model. The preparation of a dish is a complex mixture of ancient gestures, once handed over from one generation to another. This tradition also includes a series of techniques, developed over the centuries, which were designed to enhance each ingredient that would otherwise have quite a poor taste. In this sense, the Mediterranean diet represents a valuable cultural heritage.

Traditionally, people living in the Mediterranean countries have always collected wild herbs and used them to prepare the delicious dishes typical of the Mediterranean cuisine. During spring it was common to go to the countryside and collect herbs for salads, soups or simply to prepare a frittata. Wild herbs are a concentrated source of minerals and vitamins. Some examples of herbs that everyone should try are dandelion, cress, nettle, mauve and wild fennel. In the countryside, green anise was also harvested, whose seeds can be used to prepare liqueurs.

Unfortunately, in recent decades most of the Mediterranean countries, have progressively moved away from the traditional Mediterranean cuisine. Media advertising and the increasing popularity of fast food and convenience foods, has pushed people toward an unhealthy and sedentary lifestyle, which has now become the norm in many Mediterranean countries.

Gianluca Tognon

Gianluca Tognon

Gianluca Tognon is an Italian nutrition coach, speaker, entrepreneur and associate professor at the University of Gothenburg. He started his career as a biologist and spent 15 years working both in Italy and then in Sweden. He has been involved in several EU research projects and has extensively worked and published on the association between diet, longevity and cardiovascular risk across the lifespan, also studying potential interactions between diet and genes. His work about the Mediterranean diet in Sweden has been cited by many newspapers worldwide including the Washington Post and The Telegraph among others. As a speaker, he has been invited by Harvard University and the Italian multi-national food company Barilla.

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About Me

I’m an Italian nutrition coach, speaker, entrepreneur and associate professor at the University of Gothenburg. I started MY career as a biologist and spent 15 years working both in Italy and then in Sweden.

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