Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Mediterranean: Eternal Beauty

The Mediterranean is a beautiful, mythic sea.  Once you’ve seen it, you never forget its beauty, even if like myself, you come from a different sea altogether (i.e., the Caribbean). 

The name Mediterranean is derived from the Latin mediterraneus, meaning "inland" or "in the middle of the earth." The Romans called it Mare Nostrum ("Our Sea"). The Mediterranean is located in an area where many of the most ancient civilizations on earth thrived and it has been a major influence on these cultures.  The sea provided the means for trade, war, and colonization, as well as the basis of life. 

The Mediterranean is almost completely enclosed by land.  It is bounded by the coasts of Europe, Africa and Asia.  Twenty one states or countries have a coastline on the Mediterranean:

In Europe: Spain, France, Monaco, Italy, Malta, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece and Turkey (a country that is considered both Europe and Asia)

In Asia: Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel

In Africa: Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco

Some of these countries are completely within the realm of the usual tourist trip abroad for many Americans, while others are much further afield (Eastern Europe, anyone?).  Some are Biblical (Egypt, Syria, Israel) and yet others are in what might be too exotic a locale for some:  northern Africa.  Today, when we refer to the “Mediterranean,” we generally mean the entire area and its people.  A lifetime is too short to explore its myriad cultures, foods, traditions and landscapes.  To name just two:  the foods and the natural beauty.



Most of us have heard of the “Mediterranean diet,” that magical recipe for a healthy, long life.  We know that it includes lots of fish, olive oil, red wine and fresh fruits and vegetables.  Few of us would have difficulty following this regime, because it’s delicious.  But alas, we are Americans, and we perhaps lack the discipline to also cut out snacking and sugary drinks.  But let me tempt you with these lovely photos and surely you will add more of these foods to your usual fare.   GRILLED SARDINES


But, when lucky enough to visit the area, do not neglect to have bouillabaisse in the South of France, tapas in Spain, grilled sardines in Greece, stuffed grape leaves in Turkey, and kibbeh in Lebanon. 


As for the landscapes and what visitors the world over go to see when they visit “the Mediterranean,” feast your eyes on these photos. 

'Til next time. 

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