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Olive Oil: A Core of Mediterranean Cuisine

The sun-drenched lure of the Mediterranean Basin is strong for us westerners. It’s been settled since the earliest years of the world, it’s gorgeous, and its luxurious weather and landscape produce an abundance of natural food products, including the three staples of Mediterranean cuisine—grapes, wheat, and olives.

The cultures surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, Maghrebi, Egyptian, Levantine, Ottoman (Turkish), Greek, Italian, Provençal (French), and Spanish, may eat very different foods, drinks, and spice palates, but the foundational ingredients are the same: grapes, wheat, and olives, from which we get wine, bread and pasta, and of course, olive oil.

Can you just picture the brilliant hues of sea and sky? The ancient olive groves, the cities as old as time, and cuisines to dream of in our fast-food nation—roasted vegetables, grilled meats, fresh herbs, juicy fruits, fragrant breads, and rich local wines?

A little-known fact about the Mediterranean region is that these civilizations developed along with the spread of cultivated olive crops. Not to brag, but we here at Old Town Olive have in our shop one of the products that helped spread the civilized world as we know it.


Mediterranean Cuisine’s Modern Start

In 1950, a woman named Elizabeth David wrote A Book of Mediterranean Food that started the modern craze surrounding this delicious, healthy way of eating. The book was originally written in the post-WWII era of rationing, but as the nation’s economy recovered, the food concepts from the Mediterranean caught on and have stayed popular ever since.

The Mediterranean diet is built around simple clean ingredients in as close to their natural state as possible.

Here is the basic breakdown of the Mediterranean diet:

  • 50-60% of your calories come from complex carbohydrates—fresh fruits and vegetables, pastas, breads, and other whole grains.
  • 25-35% of your calories come from fat, with 8% or less coming from saturated fat.
  • Most of the rest of diet is filled with fish and seafood, poultry, eggs, cheese, and milk products.
  • The very smallest amount of consumption in the Mediterranean diet is red meat.

Another key to the Mediterranean diet is that it is based on whatever foods are in season. This holds a couple of advantages: 1) fresh food has higher nutritional content and lower caloric content than processed foods. And 2) eating what is in season is less expensive.


Fill That Plate

Time and time again the Mediterranean diet has proved its worth by helping people from other nations with more “modern” taste preferences (i.e., processed foods high in trans fats and empty calories), drop weight, regain lean muscle, clear up their skin, and reduce disease.

The moral of the story is: fill that plate! But before you do, rearrange the food pyramid you’re used to. Get rid of processed foods and go for natural whole grain products, loads of vegetables and fruit, fresh herbs clipped right from the garden, and lots of olive oil. Pour yourself a glass of wine or grape juice and dig in!

This is a wonderfully balanced, high-fiber, tasty diet that yields amazing results in your body’s health, weight ratio, and energy levels. Get on board with Mediterranean cuisine, and stop by Old Town Olive to check out our tasting room. If olive oil is going to be this large a part of your daily food, you’ll want some bottles of good oil around. We have plenty of flavored oils as well as traditional oils, so come taste a few and learn which ones you love.

Try our balsamic vinegars as well—they are a wonderfully healthy condiment. High in flavor, low in calories, and a true luxury to your taste buds. The delights of the Mediterranean await!

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