A lovely place to meet a friend and chat over lunch
Unlike many other ethnic cuisines, Mediterranean cuisine is not the product of a specific ethnic group or culture. Rather, it is a label referring to the culinary trends shared by a diverse array of peoples that live in the region around the Mediterranean Sea.
Although Mediterranean cuisine isn’t governed by a single culture, it is very much the product of cultural influence and exchange. The world’s earliest civilizations bordered the Mediterranean Sea, their development bolstered by the rich soil and temperate climate that made agricultural production thrive. As the point of intersection between Asia, Europe, and Africa, with major civilizations located in each area, the Mediterranean was geographically destined to become a major trading hub. Traders exchanged cultural commodities like spices and other food goods, resulting in the wide dissemination of certain ingredients throughout the cuisines of these disparate peoples. It was through this form of cultural interaction that certain fundamental elements of Mediterranean cuisine became popular throughout the region.
Conquest was another factor in shaping Mediterranean cuisines. The different cultures of the Mediterranean came into direct contact as a result of the empire-building efforts of various civilizations. Once one civilization overthrew the government of another, they often imposed their own cultural practices upon the conquered society. At the same time, there was inevitably a certain amount of cultural persistence during conquest, often resulting in the amalgamation of the conquering group’s culture with that of the conquered. As societies blended together within the empire, culinary practices were adapted and conformed, resulting eventually in the adoption of the current culinary identifiers of the Mediterranean cuisine by people throughout the region.