It’s almost May, which means it is time to celebrate International Mediterranean Diet Month, or Med Month. Oldways started Med Month ten years ago to raise awareness of, honor, and celebrate the delicious foods – olive oil, whole grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, wine, and a moderate amount of ﬁsh and meat – and wide-ranging health beneﬁts associated with the Mediterranean diet. Adopting the Mediterranean diet is more than what you eat. Rather, it’s a way of life – a set of skills, knowledge, rituals, and traditions. Here’s how to get started:
Eat socially. There is a strong social and familial aspect for Mediterranean people. Connectedness to others, especially by slowing down and gathering around the dinner table with family and friends, is not only enjoyable, but good for our mental and physical well-being. Not surprisingly, enjoying meals with others is at the foundation of the Oldways Mediterranean diet pyramid. It’s engrained in the cultural identity and continuity of communities throughout the Mediterranean.
For instance, in Greece, there’s a term called philoxenia, which roughly translates to ”hospitality.” But to Greeks, the term means so much more. It’s a generosity of spirit, being a friend to strangers, a courtesy shown to those who are far from home, or a gesture such as welcoming someone into your home and sharing a meal with them.
If you’ve ever spent time in Italy or, for that matter, an Italian household, you know that Italians love to linger over each course; a three-hour meal is not an uncommon occurrence.
Come May, make a concerted eﬀort to have more family meals. Perhaps, host a dinner party or potluck, and enjoy a relaxing evening of sharing food and stimulating conversation with family, friends, acquaintances, and/or new friends to be cultivated.
Notice that spring is in the air. May is the perfect time to embrace spring’s bounty by enjoying a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables. Pack a (reusable) bag and head to your local market and load up on spring fruits and vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, carrots, peas, fennel, radish, spinach, strawberries, and rhubarb. Some recipes to add to your cooking repertoire this spring include Asparagus Risotto, Springtime Soup, Spinach, Farro, Strawberry & Feta salad, and Penne with Arugula Pesto and Peas.
Cook your way across the Mediterranean. At least 16 countries border the Mediterranean Sea, each with diﬀerent cultures, agricultural production, and culinary traditions. Thus, there is a tremendous variety of food to be explored and savored. Enjoy a taste of the Mediterranean by incorporating its ingredients, ﬂavors, and recipes into your weekly cooking repertoire.
- Explore the Food of Spain with Claudia Roden
- Learn about Israeli cooking with Michael Solomonov’s Zahav: A World of Israeli Cooking
- Get acquainted with Southern Italian cuisine with Rosetta Costantino’s My Calabria: Rustic Family Cooking from Italy’s Undiscovered South
- Discover diverse, delicious plant-based traditions in Aglaia Kremezi’s Mediterranean Vegetarian Feasts or Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty
- Unearth Food of Morocco with acclaimed food writer Paula Wolfert
- Cook Classic Lebanese Cuisine with Chef Kamal Al-Faqih
- Spice up your life with Ana Sortun’s Spice: Flavors of the Mediterranean.
Escape to the Mediterranean with Oldways. Travel to Cyprus in November with Oldways, Chefs Ana Sortun (of Oleana Restaurant) and Cassie Piuma (of Sarma restaurant), and cookbook author and journalist Aglaia Kremezi. The week will be ﬁlled with Mediterranean foods and wines, plus cooking, culture, and more. Register or learn more about this exciting week-long program.
Be adventurous and slow down. The Mediterranean diet is not about strict or rigid guidelines. Frankly, it’s not really a diet per se, but a philosophy of eating and living well; a harmony achieved through a deep appreciation and respect for ingredients. There are endless combinations of spices, herbs, and Mediterranean ingredients to be discovered and shared with others. So, during International Mediterranean Diet Month, make it your mission to seek out new ﬂavors and enjoy leisurely, home-cooked meals with friends and family – or as they say in Greece, “siga-siga,“ or “slowly-slowly.”
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Join the Make Every Day Mediterranean Club Facebook group for additional information and support.