The Mediterranean Pantry


According to gastronomic researchers world’s most foremost cuisines are – French, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese. Indian cuisine is certainly worthy of inclusion, had it not been for its traditional, jumbled up plate presentations.

Undoubtedly, there exist many cuisines that offer intriguing and refined flavours and extorters, such as Spanish, Armenian (that borrows from Arabic and Iranian specialties. Some researchers claim that Arabs and Iranians borrowed from Armenians), Greek, North African, and Northern Europe. The panty of a Middle Eastern household, and for that matter of a restaurant, contains very few fresh vegetables, fish or meat. Even today, housewives and restaurant owners, shop daily for vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, and poultry, especially in small towns.

Chefs or restaurant owners go to the market early in the morning to buy the best and freshest ingredients they can find, rush to the restaurant. Occasionally, they visit a café to chat with fellow chefs or owners to exchange market intelligence, or gossip. Once back in the restaurant the menu is quickly composed, and printed or written on a blackboard. Often the server will cite the menu verbally at each table and recommend a dish.

I still remember my grandmother, who owned a restaurant and cooked shopping daily, sometimes even twice daily. Absolutely fresh and seasonal ingredients form the basis of flavourful food. The pantry of a Middle Eastern household contains: (Note some ingredients may not be in Muslim family pantries i.e pork and pork containing sausages etc).

Marinated – hearts, or canned artichokes- or hearts, beans (soy, kidney), capers in brine, grating cheese, soft cheeses (feta, gorgonzola, mascarpone, etc), cured meats, sausages, grains (couscous, cracked wheat, rice, polenta), bay leaves, garlic, onions, dried oregano, dried thyme, rosemary, olive oil, olives, pastas (several shapes), canned seafood (anchovies, tuna, sardines, octopus), canned peeled plum tomatoes, tomato paste, white and red wine vinegar, canned red peppers, potatoes, sea salt, pepper corns, cumin, cinnamon, saffron.

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