The Mediterranean food in Tempe has attracted considerable attention in recent years, but it has in fact been around for millennia. Researchers have been consistently amazed at the long life expectancy and low incidence of cardiovascular disease amongst the people of Crete, Southern Italy, Spain, and France.
The typical Mediterranean diet consists of the following features:
1. Relatively High Fat Intake
While fat is the villain when it comes to health and weight-related issues, Mediterranean people get as much as 40% of their calories from fats. Not all fats are created equal, of course – and the Mediterranean diet focuses mostly on healthy monounsaturated fat sources such as Olive Oil and Omega-3 Fatty Acids from fish. Animal fats such as butter, cream, and lard and almost entirely excluded from the diet.
2. Low Red Meat Consumption
The Mediterranean food diet is low in red meats, which is well-known to increase cholesterol and incident of heart disease. Mediterraneans opt for lean meats such as fish and poultry and even then consume them in low/moderate quantities.
3. High Fruit, Vegetable and Carbohydrate Intake
Italy is famous for its pasta and pizza, and the Mediterranean food diet is no exception. Mediterraneans also consume significant amounts of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and breads.
4. Regular Wine Consumption
There is nothing more Italian than sipping a glass of red wine with a meal. Even the American Heart Association recommends drinking in moderation – that is, no more than one glass of wine a day for a woman, and two for a man. It is believed that wine can increase levels of “good” cholesterol. For those who wish to avoid alcohol but still want the health benefits, grape juice is an excellent substitute.
The food of Provence is legendary, and there’s no better way of encountering it than walking in France through the areas known for their superb cuisine.
La Cuisine Provençale
Walking in France through Provence is a fantastic opportunity to discover not only magnificent countryside, towns, and history but also one of the world’s great cuisines.
It is one that, as you might guess, is heavily influenced by Mediterranean culture and particularly the food of Italy – but all done in a very French way!
Cuisine in this area is based heavily on the concept of fresh, light and local produce.
For starters, why not try something like Crespo – a local omelet cake perhaps served with an olive and tomato purée? You might also be tempted by Ratatouille – this is a very different dish to that served in Northern Europe as a sometimes rather sad accompaniment to the main course. In Provence, as a starter, you’ll see very fresh onions, courgettes, and aubergines prepared into a delicious dish.
If you’re walking in France and come across a restaurant serving salt cod with aioli, then you must try it. It is a stunning mixture of cod and vegetables served with a garlic mayonnaise. You must also try bouillabaisse. This is sometimes described mostly misleadingly as just “fish stew” (which it is) but what makes it extraordinary is the use of the fennel and saffron. Some say the best can be found in and around Marseilles, but it’s often excellent anywhere in Provence. Another thing worth looking out for is Daube Provençale. Yes, this is essential ‘only’ a red meat stew, but the marinating of the meat overnight in various herbs make this delicious meal.
The sweet tooth
For dessert, why not try some of the famous spicy breads of the area? These aren’t simply served in the breadbasket – a range of dressings accompanies them. You might also want to try Sabayon with pistachios – in fact, there are large numbers of variations on this, all using ingredients such as the almonds and prunes that make this region in France famous. It’s also worth trying the simple rustic dessert variations that include things such as the use of honey, raisins nuts and nougat in various combinations.
If you’re worried about the calories in all this, then don’t be – that’s one of the beauties of a holiday walking in France, you can convince yourself that you’re burning them all off! And you may well be!
As everywhere, eating out in Provence may bring with it variable costs, though the quality is much more likely to be good just about everywhere. Obviously, sea-front restaurants in the primary locations may have comparable pricing but, on the whole, eating out here continues to offer excellent value when compared to many other European countries.
So, get walking in France and start eating your way around Provence – you won’t regret it!