It is vain to leaf through cookbooks in the hope of decoding Mediterranean cuisine. For one, it is not the cuisine of a single country. Every one of the 21 countries that rim the deep blue heart of the Mediterranean, have their own distinct cuisines. Yet, they are all brushed by a certain sensibility brought in by the breeze from a very special place. The Sea, the Sea. Call me a fabulist, but I believe it is the uncommonly blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea that have made all the difference to these lands.
The countries lying along the Mediterranean Sea share in the bounty of high quality produce from the sea and the theme of fertility carries inland too over territories that are guarded by a temperate climate.
The soil and air of the Mediterranean come together to create an environment that yields vegetables so vibrant they inspire reproduction on canvas.
It has long been observed that the Mediterranean diet, which celebrates vegetables, unprocessed cereals, dairy foods and seafood, has a direct bearing on the health and longevity of those that follow it. Olive oil, the emblem of this diet, is the most favoured cooking medium in the region. Its mild pungency makes it a particularly suitable accompaniment to pasta dishes, grilled fish, vegetable and lamb stews and an addition to salads, marinades, sauces and soups.
The ancient Greek tradition of celebrating life with food goes further. Even today people observe the long tradition of gathering at cemeteries at a certain time to honour the dead with food and drinks. According to popular belief, departed souls returning to earth during this period, are pleased to find their favourite haunts decorated with flowers, kollyva (soul pies), lamb and other foods.
The Peshwa Pavilion at ITC Maratha celebrates the versatile Mediterranean flavours this month at Themed Pavilion Nights every Thursday in June. Try some of the most loved dishes such as tapas, paella, gyros, choriatiki (salad), shawarma, kebabs, baklavas with feta cheese, or simply go for that classic hummus experience.
For more information, please visit the Gourmet Guide.