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Mediterranean Cuisine and Culture


To celebrate the launch of our new in house restaurant, Mediterrani Pizza Bar Grill, we thought we would look into difference Mediterranean cultures and cuisines! View our new Mediterranean menu here.

 

SPAIN

There is no doubt that food and drink are a very important element of Spanish culture, which is why Spanish bars and restaurants are always buzzing. A typical restaurant will have an array of tapas style dishes on offer. Tapas refers to small savoury meals which are intended to be shared with a group of people – these meals range from cured meats, marinated vegetables and other delicious appetizers. Some must-try favourites are the Spanish omelette and Spanish rice croquettes. Be prepared for lots of traditional Mediterranean flavours – lots of garlic, olive oil, fish, seafood and free range pork.  Rice in the form of Paella is also very popular in Spain; sometimes it is referred to as“Arroz del día” or “rice of the day.”

 

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day however this doesn’t seem to be the case for Spaniards. Breakfast in Spain is usually very light and features coffee, hot chocolate or freshly squeezed fruit juice. This is accompanied by a pastry dish such as a croissant or toast with jam. Another very common breakfast dish you will see in bars and restaurants is Spanish Churros, which are their tasty version of donuts, served with melted dipping chocolate and fruit such as bananas and strawberries.

 

Breakfast might be light, but lunch is the biggest and most important meal in Spain. Lunch consists of several courses, starting with a soup or salad, followed by the main meal with meat or fish, and then a small dessert. This is followed by coffee or shots of traditional Spanish liquor afterward. The whole meal is accompanied by fresh bread, wine and water. Lunch time and the famous “siesta” (nap) occur between 2 pm and 4 pm so make sure you plan around this time. A large number of shops close around this period so also keep that in mind if you are travelling in Spain and intend do go shopping.

 

Due to the midday break workers often don’t get home till 8 pm and that means that they eat dinner pretty late- about 9:30 pm to 10 pm. Dinner is similar to lunch but lighter. Because breakfast is sweet and lunch features a dessert, dinner is just a savoury meal.

 

Spain offers a truly diverse range of food which caters to all sorts of different palates, so you a bound to find something you love!

 

GREECE

Greek culinary traditions date back thousands of years, and over time they have absorbed a number of diverse and delicious influences. Greek dishes embrace fresh local ingredients, with seafood specialities being particularly popular among the residents of the Greek islands. Much like other Mediterranean cuisines, Greek food is known for its heavy use of olive oil, lean meats, vegetables herbs and grains.

 

Similar to Spanish tapas, mezze is popular in Greece. These small meals can serve as an entrée or make up an entire meal. Mezze combines delicious ingredients such as eggplant, tomato, pita bread, potato, feta cheese, lemon, orka, filo pastry and honey. Filo pastry is a favourite for making traditional Greek spanakopita with feta and spinach. Desserts are also made with filo pastry including baklava which features sheets of filo pastry drenched in honey and filled with nuts.

 

Breakfast time in Greece is similar to its Mediterranean neighbours – quick and light! Sweet breakfasts are common and include fresh fruit, Greek yoghurt, local traditional marmalades, spanakopita and other pastries. Greeks love their traditional unfiltered coffee served without milk! Greeks start work early, especially during summer to beat the heat.

 

Greeks also prefer to eat their biggest meal during lunch time. Grilled meats, with traditional Greek salad or a vegetable casserole, sometimes sandwiches, are also on the menu. Mezze is also eaten before lunch. Lunch is never rushed in Greece, since most workers go home at 2pm to have lunch and then resume work later.

 

Dinner is lighter than lunch and it is often eaten quite late when the working day is over. Dinner depends on the region, for example residents of small Greek islands consume a lot of fish and seafood for dinner, while those living in the cities and mainland areas often have pasta and grain dishes for dinner, followed by a small dessert.

 

CROATIA


Croatia is another European nation which strongly embraces family and food. Croatia’s location on the Adriatic coast means that it offers a unique blend of cuisines. The food in Croatia is distinctly Mediterranean with Greek influence – particularly with the use of filo pastry. Inland cities are also influenced by Hungarian cuisine.

 

Like all European countries coffee is a must, so the day usually begins with a cup of steaming hot coffee. Eggs are eaten during breakfast, accompanied by some savoury pastry. Again Croats aren’t that big on breakfast as it’s usually one of the smaller meals during the day. Fresh fruit juice is popular during breakfast time. Salami and cheese are sometimes eaten during breakfast as well.

 

Lunch time, called ručak can feature a wide variety of foods. It often starts with a bowl of soup. Soup is light as generally consists of mainly vegetables in a broth.  Sometimes noodles are added to soup. This is followed by roasted meat, regional vegetables; potato salad is also a favourite. Lamb is usually prepared on a spit roast and eaten on special occasions. In coastal regions such as Split seafood is fresh and makes a perfect lunchtime meal. Seafood is usually grilled. Pita made from filo pastry and filled with cheese, spinach, potato or meat is a popular snack during any time of the day.

Dinner is a similar affair to lunch however smaller in size. Sliced meats, marinated vegetables, bread and cheese varieties make for a nice Croatian dinner treat. Dinner will end with a small dessert, palačinke (Croatian version of crepes) are delicious and served with jam or melted chocolate and fruit.

 

 

Hopefully learning a bit more about what different cultures like to eat has made you hungry for some delicious Mediterranean fare! Can you spot the Spanish, Greek and Croatian influences in our new menu?

Happy eating! AH xx

 

 

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