What is the 'Mediterranean Diet'?
UNESCO's Intangible Heritage List
Mediterranean Diet Mediterranean Diet Sara Bosch

UNESCO declared the Mediterranean Diet, the flamenco music & dance and the Catalan human castles a World Heritage one year ago, November 2010. The Mediterranean Diet in particular was included thanks to the benefits it brings to health and to quality of life. But what is the 'Mediterranean Diet'?

UNESCO states:

"The Mediterranean diet constitutes a set of skills, knowledge, practices and traditions ranging from the landscape to the table, including the crops, harvesting, fishing, conservation, processing, preparation and, particularly, consumption of food.

It is characterized by a nutritional model that has remained constant over time and space, consisting mainly of olive oil, cereals, fresh or dried fruit and vegetables, a moderate amount of fish, dairy and meat, and many condiments and spices, all accompanied by wine or infusions, always respecting beliefs of each community.

However, the Mediterranean diet encompasses more than just food. It promotes social interaction, since communal meals are the cornerstone of social customs and festive events.

The system is rooted in respect for the territory and biodiversity, and ensures the conservation and development of traditional activities and crafts linked to fishing and farming in the Mediterranean communities.

Women play a particularly vital role in the transmission of expertise, as well as knowledge of rituals, traditional gestures and celebrations, and the safeguarding of techniques."

Good. But, we asked Australian professionals: What do you think the 'Mediterranean Diet' is?

Robert Burns, Melbourne:

It's a way of eating maintained over centuries by the Mediterranean coastline people. Greeks and Romans laid the foundations with bread, wine and oil as the main ingredients.
High-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables and legumes are consumed daily. Neat and simple culinary preparations avoiding saturated fats; boiled and roasted meals. Consumption of fresh bread, rice and nuts abound. Use of garlic or onion, herbs and spices. Low consumption of meat or protein foods. High consumption of oily fish. Wine in moderation.
But we should also talk about Mediterranean lifestyle: healthy habits such as 'siesta' (power nap) and physical activity such as agriculture, which have great cardiovascular benefits.
Ivan Saiz, Chef

Delicado Foods & Delicado Wines, Sydney:
The Mediterranean diet is simple. The complexity arises from the method of its delivery. And perhaps most importantly, time. The trick to Mediterranean cuisine is having the time and environment to enjoy it. Small plates, sharing. Long drinks, good company. The result is an experience which far outweighs the sum of its parts".
Ben Moechtar, Proprietor

The Aylesbury, Melbourne:
That's a hard one! I guess simple ingredients with extra virgin olive oil as the base for pretty much everything. It's also about lifestyle and sharing food and time.
Jesse & Vanessa, Proprietors

A Taste of Spain Culinary Travels:
Mediterranean diet is a key part of our culture, a unique way of understanding and enjoying not just food, but friendship, family... the important things in life.
Miguel Ullibarri, Communications

Comida Bebe, Australia:
Mediterranean Diet... So many things! Unsophisticated, seasonal and raw ingredients – olive oil, garlic, tomato, onion, bread, seafood, pulses, snails! – but also the proximity to the ocean, which guarantees freshness of the product. Forget about fatty seasonings and welcome to the 5+ people cooking meals.
Raul & Andreas, Managers

Gertrude Street Enoteca, Melbourne:
The Mediterranean diet = olive oil, light wine, simple food with lots of bitter greens, seafood and fresh cheeses and above all plenty of time and pleasure in sharing both the preparation and enjoyment of food.
James Broadway, Manager

Spanish Doughnuts Australia:
The Mediterranean diet is all about the traditional flavours like those found in 'churros'. The best part is churros are adaptable and are served with fillings, savouries or dipped in sauces.
Michael Aldemir, Director

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