The Flavour of the Mediterranean

137 The Flavour of the MediterraneanIf you go to Southern Europe (especially to Italy, Greece and Spain), I can assure you that you will never get bored because there is everything for every taste starting from historic heritage, mild climate with extremely hot summers, splendid white-sand beaches, crystal clear and celestial sea water, and a great diversity of culinary temptations. Yeap … Culinary wonders are too many. Moreover, the pattern of the Mediterranean diet turns the cuisine of these countries (consisting mainly of exquisite, cereals, vegetables and fruits) into the healthiest in the world.

Speaking about this nutrition pattern, I cannot omit the city of Barcelona that is popularly known as the “Capital of Mediterranean diet”.  Being there every tourist is always eager to try Tapas that are so famous even though they, actually, originate from locals and bars of Seville and Andaluciá. And what are Tapas exactly? Maybe I should start with the legend related to their origin? So … Once upon a time, in the 13th century, King Alfonso X of Castile (nicknamed as the Wise) got seriously ill. In order to get better he had to eat small snacks with his wine between meals. Thus he maintained his strength and recovered quickly. After having got better, the King passed a law according to which wine or beer had to always be served with food in taverns. This tradition has been kept since then and nowadays tapas bars in Spain serve a variety of snacks and appetizers consisting of Mediterranean ingredients such as olives and olive oil, garlic, fish and seafood, sometimes a free range of pork and ham. On the other hand, tapear (i.e. going to tapas bars and restaurants for drinks and tapas) is an essential tradition of the Spaniards, especially to the South, and it has a very strong social effect. People of all ages go there to have a pleasant conversation with friends and the main focus is not upon eating the entire meal but having a good time out. Another common thing about tapas bars is that these “social” places are always overcrowded and busy and it’s not strange to see people stand at the bar or small tables, or sometimes even at upturned barrels. And last thing about tapas bars. They are open for tourists almost during the whole day but the natives visit them between 1- 4 pm in the afternoon and later they come back in the evening and spend several hours there from 8pm till midnight. Bueno, amigo …. Es Tapas Tiempo ….. Hasta mañana … 😉

Appetizers are served in Italy, too. But don’t mistake them with Spanish tapas. They have nothing in common with them except for the fact that they are small snacks, too. What I mean by Italian appetizers is Aperitivo (or aperitif time) that is like the Anglo-Saxon ‘Happy Hour’. It was introduced by i milanesi (the residents of Milan) in Italy. The concept of Aperitivo is that guests purchase a drink at the bar and help themselves to free buffet-style snacks. Most often aperitivo menu consists of finger food, sandwiches, simple cured meats, fresh bread, crisps and pretzels. Principally, aperitivo time is between 6-10pm and is offered by many bars, lounges and street cafès in lots of cities in Italy. Buon divertimento, amici … 😉

And finally, if you happen to visit Hellas, don’t miss the chance to visit a Greek taverna where you can Eat, Drink & Enjoy Life. Greek tavernas are of three types. Depending on the type you might indulge only in fish or you might have a glass of Ouzo or Metaxa  accompanied with typical Greek mezes (appetizers), or you might order traditional Greek meals. In the past there was a very interesting tradition of dish-smashing in Hellenic tavernas (nowadays it’s forbidden by law in Hellas). And if you want paint the town red after having already visited a Greek taverna I suggest that you go to a typical Greek night club known as Bouzoukia where you will sit, relax and drink, enjoy Greek music and throw carnation blossoms at singers.  Έλα … έλα … 😉

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6 thoughts on “The Flavour of the Mediterranean

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