The History of Mediterranean cuisine: A real social occasion


Doused in healthy olive oil and laden with colourful fresh vegetables, the distinct flavours of Mediterranean food makes it one of the most popular types of cuisine in the world. It is hardly surprising that the wonderfully healthy, varied and tasteful dishes of the Mediterranean are reproduced and reinvented around the world.

Mediterranean cuisine stems from the geographical regions along the Mediterranean Sea. Based on the swarms of olive trees that grow in these sun-drenched lands, Mediterranean cooking is largely based on olive oil, hence its distinct and favourable flavour.

While the populations of the Mediterranean have been cooking with the staple Mediterranean ingredients, namely olive oil, tomatoes and other fresh vegetables, meat, fish and pasta, for centuries, the term ‘Mediterranean cuisine’ is a fairly new concept, which dates back to a book published in 1950 titled ‘A Book of Mediterranean Food’.

From the colourful pasta dishes of Italy, to the garlic-baked tapas of Spain, travelling to continental Europe puts you in the heart of Mediterranean cuisine. In fact, alongside the sunshine and relaxed way of life, the distinct cuisine of the Mediterranean is a key reason tourists continue to flock to continental Europe.

We’ve probably all got a favourite Mediterranean dish, but one of the greatest parts about Mediterranean cooking is that you can be as inventive and original as you like with recipes.

The Huffington Post provides some fabulous Mediterranean recipes. One recipe inspired for a Mediterranean diet is lentils folded into yoghurt, spinach and basil. Another mouth-watering recipe highlighted by the Huffington Post is Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potato, which, infused with garlic, olive oil, parsley, tomatoes and lemon juice, is brimming with flavour and health.

A social occasion

Though it’s not just the distinct flavours, ingredients and dishes that make Mediterranean cuisine so special and unique, but it is how the meals are consumed.

A mealtime on the Med is a real social affair. Families and friends take time off work and play to enjoy a meal together. Ingredients are cooked in huge pots upon the stove slowly, tables are laid elaboratively, bread arrives in baskets, and various mouth-watering dishes are served and enjoyed, washed down with plenty of chilled wine and water. The whole mealtime occasion can easily stretch as long as a couple of hours, a far cry from the British and American tendency for fast food and eating whilst on the go!

This sort of social dining, where we make the effort to eat together as a family or as friends, has been scientifically proven to be beneficial to our wellbeing. Research shows that eating together as a family can lead to lower rates of depression, pregnancy and substance abuse among teenagers. It also points towards higher self-esteem and achieving better grades at school.

As Dr. Anne Fishel, co-founder of the Family Dinner Project that looks at the psychological benefits of dining as a family, says:

“Dinner may be the only time of the day when we can reconnect, leaving behind our individual pursuits like playing video games, emailing and doing homework. Dinner is a time to relax, recharge, laugh, tell stories and catch up on the day’s ups and downs, while developing a sense of who we are as a family.”

With a commitment to ensure mealtimes are big, family occasions, the Mediterranean culture seems to have the right attitude when it comes to making the most of mealtimes, both in the food that they eat and how they eat it!

Of course, eating out in a restaurant enables families to relax to the maximum and they don’t even have to worry about the washing up! If you’re looking for child-friendly restaurants in Leeds, then you are in the right place, as Weetwood Hall is the ideal venue for quality family dining in a relaxing environment.

We have several restaurants and bars, where families and friends can gather for those special occasions and relax over fine food, fabulous drinks and, of course, great company.

We’re also thrilled at the opening of our Convive Restaurant, where you and the family can spend as long as you want scrutinising over an exceptionally delicious and delightfully varied Mediterranean menu.

To book a table at any of our restaurants and enjoy eating out in Leeds at a stylish and relaxed venue that serves high-quality dishes, email or call 0113 388 5722.









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Categories: Dining, Pub, Restaurant