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Sara Baer-Sinnott Introduces Mediterranean Diet Month 2013

To commemorate International Mediterranean Diet Month in May, we’re having an online celebration, and inviting some of Oldways’ dearest friends. Each day throughout the month, we’ve asked one of the hundreds of talented cookbook authors, journalists, scientists, food retailers, importers and chefs we’ve traveled with over two decades, to share a “Mediterranean Memory” originating from Oldways’ culinary and cultural Symposiums around the Mediterranean region.

As we’ll hear from a number of Oldways’ friends, these Symposiums – organized by us to get Americans familiar with Mediterranean ingredients and preparations after we introduced the Mediterranean Diet Pyramid in 1993 – were special.  Special because the people (a who’s who of the food world), the places we visited (Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville in Spain; Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, Chios, and Lesbos, Crete, Thessaloniki in Greece; and Sicily, Pantelleria, Puglia, Campania, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Tuscany, Piedmonte, and Rome in Italy); and the producers of intensely local food and wine all combined to create a recipe for life-changing experiences and long-lasting impacts.

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I’ve thought about the last twenty years, trying to choose a pinch-me memory of my own to introduce the magic of Mediterranean Diet Month in May, and I can’t pick just one.  In fact, I had trouble narrowing it down to even a dozen:

  • Exploring and traveling many miles with Dun Gifford, making lifelong friendships all around the Mediterranean
  • Watching Paula Wolfert teach traditional couscous making in Morocco
  • Learning from Fausto Luchetti leading an olive oil tasting in both Pantelleria and Madrid
  • Eating foccacia col formaggio in Recco in Liguria
  • Discovering burrata for the first time in Puglia
  • Dancing the Sevilliana, with instructions from Elisabeth Luard, at Hacienda Guzman, outside Seville
  • Having a country lunch in Sicily at Agrigento, among the Valley of the Temples
  • Tasting wine at 10 am on a Sunday in Crete, looking out at a mountainside of mustard greens
  • Learning how aceto balsamico is made in Modena, followed by a Gala Dinner in the piazza of the Ducal Palace
  • Sending 100 Symposium goers to home dinners in both Fes and Istanbul
  • Eating, drinking, and dancing at a winery in Locorotondo in Puglia
  • A schoolhouse dinner in Crete – a Maine baked bean supper, Crete-style
  • And, many more.

What all of these memories point toward is that the pleasure of Mediterranean eating and living can be simple and is something we can all experience.  That is my hope for Mediterranean Month – that everyone reading this will give the healthy and exquisitely simple Mediterranean Diet a try each day, and be sure to treat yourself to a Mediterranean Memory-A-Day and visit our blog throughout the month of May. A big thanks to Oldways communication experts Rachel Greenstein and Kyle Potvin for planning our online celebration and making it happen!

-Sara Baer-Sinnott, President of Oldways

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