Our Rich Heritage Embraced Through Food!
At De Las Mías, we embrace our indigenous and our Spanish roots.There is so much history that shaped our Indo-Hispano heritage, and some of it is not so good. Oppression and colonization caused pain and suffering. And because of that, we would sometimes like to abandon our past and reject the oppressor. There is merit in rejecting oppression and in countering the negative effects of colonization. But to deny or reject our past can also cause us to reject ourselves, and we don’t want that.
We want to embrace the whole messy thing that brought us to this place, and move on.
Our Heritage and Cultural Pride
I am equally proud of being Mexicana, Chicana, Latina as I am to be Española. I love that my Papá Pepe, my Spanish grandfather, left Spain by himself when he was 13 years old to come to ‘Hacer la America.’ And I’m proud that my Nana Concha, with her Yaqui roots, lived and struggled in a small village in the State of Sonora. This is my heritage and I am proud of it.
I embrace the traditional and healthy Mexican way of eating, as well as the Mediterranean way of eating. The Mexican way of eating is rich in corn, native vegetables, chiles, nopalitos, tomatoes, beans, and chocolate (lots of chocolate!), and the Mediterranean way of eating is rich in vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, fish, olives and olive oil (lots of olive oil!).
The Mediterranean Diet
There is ample research that the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ provides great health benefits. Adopting it as a way of life is an excellent way to prevent chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease, cancer and hypertension.
We are working on having a whole array of Mediterranean inspired recipes to send your way, but for now, let’s take a look at what we mean when we say ‘Mediterranean Diet.’
What makes it special?
The Mediterranean Diet is a way of eating that involves traditional foods commonly eaten in the 16 countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. This way of eating involves eating lots of vegetables and fruits, along with a moderate amount of bread, whole grains, potatoes and nuts, and a lesser amount of dairy, eggs, poultry, and fish. There is almost no red meat in the classic ‘Mediterraneans Diet.’ It also involves copious amounts of olive oil, very little butter, and a little red wine.
According to Clark and Farrow, authors of the wonderful and affordable cookbook, Mediterranean, A Taste of the Sun in over 150 Recipes, these are some of the most common foods and spices that are part of a Mediterranean Diet:
- Vegetables include artichokes, eggplant, fava beans, fennel, mushrooms, okra, onions, peppers, mostly sweet peppers like red and yellow peppers or pimientos, radicchio, radishes, spinach, tomatoes, grape leaves, zucchini, and olives.
- Fruits characteristic of the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ are dates, figs, melons, peaches and oranges.
- Dairy includes goat, cow and sheep cheeses, like Manchego! And of course, yogurt.
- Legumes include garbanzo beans also known as chickpeas, lentils and navy beans.
- Nuts include almonds, piñon nuts, walnuts and pistachios.
- Herbs and spices are bountiful in the ‘Mediterranean Diet’ and perhaps that is the reason why it is so tasty and satisfying. Traditional Mediterranean herbs include basil, bay leaves, chives, cilantro dill, mint, parsley, rosemary, sage, tarragon, thyme, cardamom, chiles, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, mace, nutmeg, pepper and saffron!
- Fish, poultry and eggs are key proteins in the Mediterranean way of eating, but the small amount of red meat in this way of eating may account for the great benefits to heart health that are attributed to it.
- The Mediterranean way of eating includes olive oil almost to the exclusion of any other kind of fat. Olive oil is one of the healthiest fats we can consume.
With this great variety of foods and flavors, how can we not enjoy the bounty of the Mediterranean table?
It is not a way of eating it’s a way of living.
A characteristic that many of us in North America forget to mention when we talk about the Mediterranean way of eating is that it is a lifestyle. It is not just about the food but about how you buy it, prepare it and share it with friends and family. The Mediterranean way of eating involves sitting around a table, talking, eating, sharing stories, taking it slowly and not rushing, being more mindful of the experience of good food and good company.
So, embrace your multicultural heritage and delve into the Mediterranean way of eating, but take your time, cook it with love and attention, set a table, tell some stories and enjoy! ¡Buen Provecho!
Clark, Jacqueline and Farrow, Joanna. Mediterranean, A Taste of the Sun in over 150 Recipes. Hermes House. 2003.