Spanish Culture and News Spanish Food and Drink

Life and Death of the ‘Mediterranean Diet’

My thoughts below were inspired by a tremendous talk by Jamie Oliver at TED this week, if you have 20 minutes please watch it (below). It’s moving to see so much passion. His fight is against obesity, and to bring real food back into our lives, and it certainly got me thinking about what’s going on here in Spain too (my thoughts follow):


I wonder what happened to the Mediterranean diet? I was out eating some delicious Spanish tapas with friends recently – huevos rotos (fried eggs on fried potatoes), albondigas (meatballs), and chorizo, when one of us pointed out, “this food isn’t healthy, look at it! It’s pure meat and grease!” I suppose the glass of red wine counted for something…

I have no facts and figures, but there is a lot of embutido (cured pig products, jamon etc) and meat eaten in restaurants here in Spain these days, and not always a lot of attention paid to vegetables.

Still, I’m not sure it’s a huge problem yet. Good food still flourishes in good homes. But look at this report from 2008:

In Spain nearly two children out of every ten are obese which is nearly double the number compared to 20 years ago. This places Spain in third place after the US and the United Kingdom in terms of child obesity according to the International Association for Obesity.

That was two years ago, but a quick search on Google News shows the problem isn’t going away.

Like everywhere else in the modern world, life in Spain is speeding up. There is more to do, and less time to do it in. Less time for boring incoveniences like cooking good food.

I love the way the Spanish can talk for hours about food during a meal. It drove me mad for the first few years of meals with the in-laws, but now I relish the passion behind conversations about where, for example, to eat the best gambas in Madrid, or why everyone ate so many garbanzos in the 50’s and 60’s, and just how good they were.

But you only have to go into a supermarket, or walk down the high street, to see the same packaged foods, and the same fast-food outlets, that you find everywhere else in the world these days.

I hope there is still a chance for the future of real, home-cooked food in Spain. The increase in obesity in kids here makes it easy to presume that things don’t look good for the Mediterranean diet. I wonder what’s going on?

As I said above it’s moving to see so much passion from jamie Oliver, and his fight against obesity, his dream to bring real food back into our lives, but I think it’s more than just about food. Food is just one aspect of a better life we are losing.

We don’t just need to eat better, we need to slooooooooooow down, stop rushing rushing rushing, striving striving striving, and enjoy the good things – like good healthy food – in life again.

And Spain still has all the traditional values deeply ingrained enough to spearhead a return to that good life.

Let’s forget the Mediteranean diet.

How about going deeper still, and championing an entire Mediterranean Lifestyle again, before it too is lost forever in the running-running, rushing-rushing, hustling, bustling reality of our consumer-driven, TV-iPad-iPod-BMW-loving, fast-city-living, world.

What do you think? Do you see any chance for the concept of a ‘Mediterranean Lifestyle’ that includes that famous diet everyone is so fond of talking about?