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Mediterranean diet decalogue: more than a lifestyle

ImagenThe Mediterranean diet is a well to protect. Like this it understood it the UNESCO when it declared it Immaterial Heritage of the Mankind in 2010, thanks to the initiative of four communities of Spain (Soria), Italy, Morocco and Greece. It is considered like one of the healthiest of the world, and no only by the use and combination of ingredients, but also by a series of traditional practices related with the feeding.

The UNESCO considers that in the nutritional model of this diet, that has remained constant through the time and of the space, the main ingredients are the oil of olive, the cereals, the fruits and cool or dry vegetables, a moderate proportion of meat, fish and dairy products, and abundant condiments and spices, whose consumption in the table accompanies of wine or infusions, respecting always the beliefs of each community. The Mediterranean diet –whose name comes of the Greek word diaita, that wants to say way of life– does not comprise only the feeding, since it is a cultural element that favourable the social interaction; that’s explains that the foods in common are an angular stone of the social habits and of the celebration of festive events.

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“To the trilogy wheat, vineyard and olivo, to the legumbres, to the vegetables, to the fruits, to the fish, to the cheeses or the yoghourt, to the nuts it is necessary to add an essential condiment, perhaps a basic ingredient: the sociability”, signals Lluís Serra, President of the Foundation Mediterranean Diet, in the book: ‘Ánima Mediterránea’, by Bernd H. Knöller And Xavier Mollà.

The experts think that the prevailing globalization is changing our alimentary habits and is putting in danger the survival of a diet that sinks his roots in the history.

One of the impulsores from Spain of the candidature of the Mediterranean diet to Immaterial Heritage of the Mankind, the doctor Juan Manuel Ruiz Liso, elaborated the fundamental decalogue to follow this type of feeding:

1.- You will take oil of virgin olive all the days of your life

2.- You won´t forget bread and cereals in any meal

3.- The fruit will accompany you every day

4.- You will eat salad daily 

5.-You will abuse from Vegetables and legumes 

6.- You won´t live without fish

7.- Daily milk you will drink

8.- You will not exceed the consumption of saturated fats

9.- Working and leisure will go together

10.- You will eat with company as often as possible

On the Foundation of the Mediterranean Diet web can find interesting medical articles on the health benefits of this diet, plus weekly menus and recipes as described below:

Vegetables (Pisto) with eggs

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Ingredients for four people:

2 medium red or green peppers

2 medium tomatoes

2 medium eggplants

4 garlic cloves

4 medium eggs

4 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp paprika

Salt

Pepper

How to do:

Wash pepper, remove seeds and cut into strips. Peel the tomatoes and garlic and finely chop separately. Wash eggplants, remove the ends and cut into cubes.

Heat olive oil in a saucepan and cook to heat the peppers for 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and eggplant and continue cooking over medium heat for 5 minutes. Finally, add the tomatoes, salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Grind salt, make some holes among the vegetables and drop the raw eggs in them. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the egg white curd. Lightly salt and pepper the eggs and serve the dish with bread.

Olive oil: the Spanish “liquid gold”

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The Spanish Ministry of Agriculture has launched a new edition of “The Spainish Award for Best Extra Virgin Olive Oil Campaign 2013-2014″ . Participants have until December 17 to deliver the samples and participate in the contest . The objective is to give recognition to the great work of Spanish companies, as well as promoting the Spanish virgin olive oils with high organoleptic quality.

The extra virgin olive oil is one of the fundamental ingredients of the Mediterranean Diet and its healthy properties, have been amply demonstrated by several researchers. Spanish olive oils are a high quality product, thanks to its olive variety, the harvesting techniques and the care taken in its preparation. Spain is also the largest producer of olive oil in the world. Do you want to learn more about the varieties that produced what we call the “liquid gold”?

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Some of the olive varieties used to produce Spanish olive oil

Spain has more than 260 olive varieties, which can offer a wide range and diversity of flavors in their olive oils, unmatched by any other country. Here are some of the olive varieties used in the oil’s production  (source ASOLIVA, Spanish Asociation of Oil’s Producers and Exporters):

Picual: The Picual variety is the most important and represents 50% of the olives used in Spain. The main producing region is Andalusia, in particular the regions of Jaén, Córdoba and Granada. The oil produced from this variety is excellent for its high monounsaturated oleic acid content –which is essential for the prevention of cardiovascular disease–, and its high content of polyphenols –natural antioxidant. From a sensory point of view, Picual varieties are cultivated in plain areas, these make a full-body oil, usually bitter, with a woody flavor, while the olives cultivated in mountain areas tend to be sweeter, with a pleasant and fresh flavour.

Cornicabra: is the second variety in cultivation area and third in production. Its grown in Castilla-La Mancha, especially Toledo and Ciudad Real. The oil made by Cornicabra has a golden yellow color with light green hues. The oils obtained are fruity, very smooth with a velvety texture and a balanced composition of essential fatty acids.

Hojiblanca: cultivated in Andalusia, especially in the east area of Seville, southern Córdoba and northern Málaga. It is used for oil production but also for the production of table olives “Californian” style. From the sensory point of view, presents a wide range of flavors: sweet at the begining, and also fresh grass, slightly bitter green fruit and nutty aftertaste.

Arbequina: is a native variety of the Lleida’s region, but is also cultivated in Aragón (Zaragoza and Huesca) and Tarragona (Catalonia) . With this variety we have fruity oils with an exotic flavour. They are fresh and very delicate in regard to oxidation, so you have to keep it in the dark at low temperatures to ensure its quality.

Lechín of Seville: is cultivated in the regions of Seville, Córdoba, Cádiz , Málaga and Huelva (Andalusia). These oils have a flavour of grass and they are very balanced, with a slightly bitter aftertaste like green almond.

Verdial: under this name, we know different local varieties whose cultivation is spread over the South and Southwest areas of the Iberian Peninsula, as Verdial of Badajoz (cultivated in Extremadura) or Verdial of Vélez- Málaga (cultivated in Málaga) . This variety of oils are fruity with a sweet and pleasant flavour. Verdial is often mixed with the Hojiblanca variety and the result is a very tasty oil.

Empeltre: characteristic of the Aragon area (mostly Zaragoza), it produces pale yellow oils with a very pleasant fruity aftertaste.

Picudo: cutivated in the areas of Córdoba, Granada, Málaga and Jaén (Andalusia). This variety is so sweet that when the fruits are ripe, the birds tend to peck at them. The oil is very balanced and sweet, with very light and fluid flavors and a slight hint of exotic fruits.

Now, you know a little bit better the Spanish raw material of olive oil’s. Soon you will be able to read about the transformation processes that make Spanish virgin olive oil so special in the kitchen.

Torrezno, a tasty indulgence from the soul of Spain

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This snack is a typical Spanish tapa , especially in some inland areas. Torreznos are obtained from pork belly, marinated and once dried, cut into strips and fried in olive oil. The result is a very tasty and crunchy appetizer, just depending  on the way it should  be fried.

It’s a simple dish, but it has its tricks. The proper frying method is as it follows: the bacon has to be at room temperature and cut into slices 1.5 to 2 cm wide. In a pan with a little extra virgin olive (only cover the bottom) and before heating it, lay the slices always with the crust down. Heat the pan at very  low temperature, let them frying for 30-40 minutes. Then, take them out of the pan and let cool . Finally , heat the same pan with the same oil and fat at a high temperature and brown the Torrezno until the crust gets crispy.

In a province of Castilla-León , Soria, where torreznos are so typical , ten producers have joined to achieve a quality certification mark . Torrezno de Soria ensures that the pork belly is obtained , cut and treated according to traditional standards to offer its  best flavor and taste. Traditionally , the part of the pig from which the bacon is chosen  was called ‘ the soul ‘. Today, that ‘soul ‘ has become a gastronomic flag thet coul arrive soon to the Pacific NW.

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Although it is very tasty snack , has a high fat content. However, many of these are unsaturated fatty acids , especially if fried in olive oil . In any case , we recommend a responsible consumption, within a balanced diet.