It’s a proven fact that people living around the Mediterranean Sea live longer, healthier lives than the rest of us further north or across the Atlantic. A study by the University of Athens on the populace of the Greek island of Ikaria in 2009 showed that the inhabitants boasted exceptionally low rates of cancer, heart disease, depression and dementia, and were physically and sexually active into their 90s.
So what’s the secret? The Mediterranean Table (Sonoma Press, out on 29th February) takes us on that journey of discovery through southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East via over 150 mouth-watering recipes brimming with fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, beans, seafood, lean protein fish and poultry, and red wine. Small quantities of red meat, cheese and yogurt are included, and there’s a distinct lack of trans fats, refined sugar and processed foods. Mystery solved.
Every meal is covered from breakfast to dinner, with snacks in between. Mediterranean staples, as you’d expect, are here: Caprese Salad, Gazpacho, Hummus, Souvlaki, Green Olive Tapenade, Kofte, Ratatouille, Paella and Baklava.
Others are less expected but equally appealing: Roasted Cauliflower Salad, Seared Duck Breast with Orange Ouzo Sauce, Sage Stuffed Whole Trout, Swiss Chard and Goat Cheese Cannelloni, Savory Breakfast Polenta [Spanish] Pork Kabobs, Banana-Nut Phyllo Rolls Ã¢â‚¬Â¦
Hold on! Some of those spellings look suspiciously American. Unfortunately, that means weights are in cups, and food is termed zucchini (courgettes), eggplant (aubergines), arugula (rocket) and cilantro (coriander). Few British cooks will bother to work out these Americanisms, which is a shame.
That said, there’s a wealth of information contained within the book to support adopting a more Mediterranean diet, including ways of adapting to it. The introduction discusses the history of the diet, the principles, the benefits, the portions, descriptions of the foods to embrace and a 14-day sample menu.
If only we had the sun as well.