The Mediterranean Diet is far from being a modern invention. The poet Horace, writing in Latin in the first century BC, described going home to dine on a bowful of leeks, chickpeas and lagane (a kind of rustic pasta). Eating fresh and seasonal vegetables – grown as close to home as possible – was the way everyone ate until food became industrialised and distributed far and wide. Today there's a renewed desire for sustainable farming, for foods that are good for us grown locally and in season. That's what makes Italian food so perfect for modern cuisine. It's been practising that philosophy for millennia.
The Mediterranean Diet is not just about the foods we eat. It's also about how we eat. "The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes values of hospitality, neighborliness, intercultural dialogue and creativity, and a way of life guided by respect for diversity." That's part of the reason UNESCO recognised the Mediterranean Diet with Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity status in 2010. For Italy and the other countries bordering the Mediterranean the act of eating is a social one: we cook for our families, our friends. We cook to share our experiences and sit down together at the table.
Here's a collection of easy summer recipes to share with our favorite people that give pride of place to ingredients that are seasonal, local and delicious.