One of the best things about traveling around the Mediterranean is the food! There are so many delicious meals to try, all made using fresh ingredients and bursting with vibrant flavors.
The Mediterranean style of eating is considered to be nourishing and satisfying, with much less preservatives, additives, and processed foods than the classic American or British diet.
There is such a wide range of amazing dishes to try when you are in the Mediterranean that it can be quite overwhelming to know what to get!
We have put together a guide to the best Mediterranean cuisine to try, and included some recipes so you can have a go at making them yourself when you get home. Keep reading to find out more.
What Is Mediterranean Cuisine?
Mediterranean cuisine is food from the regions that surround the Mediterranean Sea- this includes countries like Greece, France, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Croatia, Morocco, and Albania. Whilst each country has their own signature dishes and unique cooking styles, there is a lot of shared culture and influence in their cuisine.
Mediterranean cuisine is also heavily influenced by history, as different regions were conquered and combined into empires which meant that food and culture was shared across many nations.
The ingredients used in Mediterranean cuisine that provide a lot of the character and flavor are a result of the warm climate. A lot of Mediterranean cooking uses olive oil as a key ingredient as olive trees are prevalent in that area. Seafood is also a common ingredient as Mediterranean countries border the sea.
The rocky terrain of the Mediterranean is not ideal for large herd animals, so a lot of the meat used tends to be from smaller animals like goats, sheep, pigs and chickens. Goats and sheeps milk is also used to make dairy products like yogurt and cheese.
Which Food Should You Try In Greece?
The Greeks are well known for their fantastic fish recipes, so if you are a fan of seafood then you will love it!
Spinialo is a Greek seafood dish made from sea squirts – marine vertebrates – which have been marinated in a bottle of seawater. They were traditionally marinated in old wine bottles then served over barley rusks with a drizzle of fresh lemon juice, and they were eaten mostly by fisherman.
You might also enjoy marides tiganites – small whitebait fish that are lightly dusted with flour before being fried. These crisp, golden fish are drizzled with olive oil and fresh lemon juice and then eaten whole.
If you want to have a go at making some Greek inspired seafood at home, why don’t you try grilled shrimp with lemon and oregano, the best food in Mykonos? Oregano is a herb that is commonly used in Greek cooking, and when it is combined with the lemon it creates a fresh yet earthy flavor which is very reminiscent of the Mediterranean.
Feta is delicious white cheese made from a combination of sheep and goat’s milk. It is salty, creamy and crumbly and goes perfectly with Greek salad. Don’t forget to also order some tzatziki to go with your salad or grilled meat. This is a Greek yogurt dip mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, and herbs that absolutely must be tried when traveling to Greece.
What Foods Should You Try In Cyprus?
One of the most widely enjoyed foods to come out of Cyprus is halloumi cheese. It is an unripened white cheese made from goats and sheeps milk. It is salty and takes on a squeaky texture when it is fried, with a nice golden crisp. You can enjoy this cheese wrapped in ham, or served with olives and pita bread.
You can also get some amazing meat dishes in Cyprus, like souvlakia (grilled meat kebabs), afella (pork marinated in cilantro), and sheftalia (grilled sausage). Stifado is also a meat dish traditionally enjoyed in Cyprus. It is a stew, usually made with rabbit although you can use beef instead.
The stew has strong flavors of tomato, red wine, allspice, cinnamon and oregano. If you want to bring a taste of Cyprus to your home then have a go at this Stifado recipe. If you can’t get hold of rabbit then use some good quality stewing steak.
Which Foods Should You Try In France?
Modern French cuisine is often associated with rich, decadent flavors, but a lot of classic French dishes began as peasant’s food made with leftovers.
Ratatouille is a classic example of this – It is a baked dish made with vegetables like zucchini, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes, flavored with onions and garlic. This is an easy meal for you to recreate at home with this ratatouille recipe.
Another classic dish to try while you are in France is French Onion Soup. It is made with a rich beef stock and softened onions, then topped with a large piece of crusty bread and melted cheese.
If you want to go for something more indulgent then you should definitely order Confit de Canard- confit duck. This is a traditional french method for cooking duck which involves slow roasting the meat in duck fat – either duck legs or the whole bird – until it melts in your mouth tender with a deliciously crispy skin. This is often served with soft potatoes, but can also be served with creamy pasta or a lentil stew.
Which Foods Should You Try In Spain?
One of the most famous dishes that you have to try while you are in Spain is Paella – a rice dish that is flavored with saffron and cooked in stock in a large pan with seafood. You can make your own. You can get a taste of Spain at home with this easy Paella recipe.
Patatas Bravas is a native Spanish dish of spicy potatoes which is often served in tapas restaurants. If you are going to Spain then you should definitely visit an authentic Spanish tapas restaurant where you can enjoy patatas bravas along with dishes like Spanish omelet, garlic prawns, fried calamari and sauteed chorizo.
Whilst not considered to have originated in Spain, Gazpacho is a very popular dish in the country. It is a cold soup made from blended vegetables, and is very refreshing to enjoy in the hot summer months… better still if you’re dining outdoors with a view of one of the best beaches in Spain.
Which Foods Should You Try In Italy?
Italian food is one of the most widely enjoyed types of Mediterranean food in the United States and Britain. Classic dishes like bolognese, lasagne, and carbonara are regularly served as family favorites in many households. If you try these dishes while you are in Italy then it will be a different experience to eating them at home, but you might prefer to order something a little different.
Arancini are Italian rice balls that are stuffed with cheese, coated in breadcrumbs and then deep fried. They make a wonderful appetizer, as does Ribollita soup, a traditional Tuscan dish that is hearty and nourishing. You can make your own ribollita soup by following this simple recipe.
Ravioli is a delicious dish of filled pasta, but if you want an alternative to pasta then you should order some gnocchi- mashed potato mixed with pasta flour. They are usually coated in a tasty sauce and served alongside meat.
Which Foods Should You Try In Turkey?
Turkey is perhaps most famous for its grilled meat and kebabs, so you should definitely sample some of that while you are in the country. The meats are seasoned perfectly and cooked until they are beautifully tender.
You can also get some fantastic vegetarian dishes in Turkey, like Mercimek Kofte – aromatic lentil balls – and Yaprak Dolma – vine leaves stuffed with rice and vegetables. Both of these dishes will be available in many restaurants in Turkey as well as street food vendors in markets. You can also enjoy a Gozleme – a flatbread stuffed with spinach and cheese
If you want to bring a taste of Turkey into your own kitchen at home, then have a go at this recipe for Sac Kavurma – Turkish lamb. Which is flavored with cumin, oregano, and chili.
Which Foods Should You Try In Croatia?
Stews make up an important part of Croatian cuisine. From Cobanac stew – a shepherd’s stew of lamb and potatoes- to Brodet – a seafood stew- there are lots of options for warming and nourishing dishes.
Zelena Menestra is a traditional Croatian dish from the Konavle region, which is Dubrovnik and the surrounding areas. It is mentioned in writings that date as far back as 1480, and is a stew-like dish made from meat, cabbage and potatoes.
If you want to try a meaty dish when you are in Croatia then order the Zagrebacki Odrezak – veal steaks stuffed with ham and cheese, breaded, and then fried. It is very similar to a schnitzel, and if you want to make your own at home you can follow this simplified recipe.
Which Foods Should You Try In Morocco?
Not all households have a tagine in their kitchen cupboard, so if you go to Morocco then you should make the most of the range of tagine dishes on offer. Especially Moroccan lamb tagine, which is tender lamb cooked in tomato juice with dried apricots.
You should also sample some couscous, as it is the national dish of Morocco. You can also enjoy some tasty couscous at home with this recipe for Moroccan Couscous with roasted vegetables, chickpeas and almonds.
(You might be surprised to learn that Couscous is common in Sicily, Italy, too.)
Zaalouk is a traditional Moroccan dish of grilled eggplant which is mixed with tomatoes and garlic and then seasoned with spices. It is served as a salad, and you can order it to eat alongside some delicious grilled meats.
You should also be sure to taste some Bastilla- Moroccan chicken pie made with a light, crispy pastry shell and filled with saffron chicken and spicy omelet. The pie is topped with crunchy almonds, brushed with orange water, then dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar. This unique blend of flavors is a real treat for the taste buds.
If you fancy some seafood, why don’t you try Fish Chermoula? Chermoula is a marinade consisting of lemon, garlic, cilantro, cumin and olive oil, and makes the perfect flavoring for fresh fish.
Which Foods Should You Try In Albania?
Tave Kosi is an Albanian national dish which is also popular in Greece and Turkey. Lamb and rice are flavored with oregano and garlic and then baked in a roux of yogurt and eggs. It is an unusual but delicious meal.
Albanian Byrek is a spinach and cheese pie, but it can also be filled with minced meat, onion and potatoes for an equally traditional dish. Thin filo pastry is used to create a nice flaky crust.
Ferges is one of the most traditional Albanian foods and definitely something to try while you are in the country. It is also called summer stew, as it is often eaten after it has gone cold as something refreshing in warmer months.
It is made from cottage cheese, green peppers, garlic, and tomato juice, but this dish is very adaptable and can be adjusted to include additional ingredients to help use up leftovers. In some recipes the cottage cheese is substituted for feta cheese. If you want to have a go at making your own Ferges then have a look at this recipe.
Best Mediterranean Cuisine – Summary
As you can see, there are lots of amazing foods for you to try while you are traveling around the Mediterranean. Each country has a wide range of delicious dishes on offer, from traditional recipes to fine dining to street food.
Immerse yourself in the culture and history of the Mediterranean by getting stuck in and trying as many different foods, and great wines, as possible. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone and order something a little bit unusual! You might end up finding something you love.
Even when the holiday is over, you can recreate those distinctive Mediterranean flavors at home with the recipes we have included.