A culinary ménage-à-trois, a trio present across the whole Mediterranean basin.
Olive Oil, bread and wine are the three foodstuffs common to the entire Mare Nostrum, from the coasts Of Turkey or Lebanon 10 the Straits Of Gibraltar, Three main branches , pillars Of the Mediterranean diet, declared by UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of humanity over 15 years ago.
As With so many other things. the Greek and Roman worlds have a mythological explanation for each of the three. The olive tree, for example. was a gift from Athena. the three great gods and
brothers —Zeus, Poseidon and Hades — were fighting to decide who would retain Attica, goddess Of wisdom planted an Olive tree and the locals favour. So much so that they decided to call their city Athens.
The history Of science has it that olive oil emerged not only as a foodstuff but also as a feature of religion cosmetics and as a fuel for lightning.
The first references date back 5000 years ago and it is believed that olive Oil arrived to the Greeks around 1500BC when they conquered Crete. Some 1.300 years later as Greece began to expand further its empire. olive
oil made it to Italy, The Phoenicians brought it to the Iberian Peninsula as well as North Africa and Sardinia.It was the Roman Empire that created a huge market for this kind of oil, however. One illustration is Monte Testaccio in Rome. an artificial mound measuring 250m high and 150m wide, made up of oil amphorae. Some 90% Of them came from what we now call Andalucia.
The second element in this trilogy is bread
As with the previous case, its origin can be traced to mythology. Demeter, named Ceres by the Romans, gave humans the knowledge required to work the land. Sow and harvest wheat, and make bread. For Homer , the great bard Of Antiquity, eating bread was synonymous with being human, The Odyssey speaks Of Ulysses’ sailors as “eaters Of bread,” in contrast to the Cyclops, a ‘monstrous prodigy” that “did not look like a man who lives on bread!’
According 10 myth, was the work Of the Greek god Dionysus or the Roman god Bacchus. Iliere’s a tale of how this god discovered wine and included three bones: one from a bird, another from a lion and a third from donkey, Consequently, when a person drinks with moderation they become as happy as a bird; if they carry on. they’ll be as brave as lion and decide to and fight with all corners; and if they continue to down their drink, they’ll end up like an idiot, capable of making a complete ass off themselves.
Although the first vineyards on record are in the Caucasus region, wine arrived 10 Greece, like oil, from Crete. The Cretians probably learned wine-making techniques from the Egyptians or the Phoenicians. From Greece, wine conquered the rest Of the Mediterranean. like its brothers oil and bread. It was the Romans who introduced the method of transporting Bacchus’ liquid in barrels, later enabling trendsetters and connoisseurs alike to utter the phase “aged in oak barrels.” Nowadays, this trilogy is of both economic and cultural importance. In terms of olive oil, only
three out Of every 100 litres produced in the world come from outside the Mediterranean.
Spain Italy and Greece account for 75% of the total.
It’s impossible to imagine the gastronomy Of these countries without this specific Oil, although most other cultures seem to manage just fine. For Wine, glass bottles were first used in the 19th century, laying the foundations for our present-day culture of high-quality wines, which has brought certain areas of Europe to worldwide fame, The price of bread, meanwhile, is a benchmark to compare the cost of living across different countries and historical periods. Two products Intrinsic to cultural identity across the Mediterranean. Let ‘s not forget that in the Catholic mass. the body and blood of Christ is none other than bread and wine. And as The Miracle of Marcelino—a Spanish film from the 1950s makes clear, they’re a gastronomic revelation.
Source: Pacha magazine.