Alcala is a little town, with some 4.500 inhabitants. Nevertheless there are some 10 tapas bars. Although tapas are food of course the locals aren’t considering them as real restaurant. It is a place to drink and socialise with a bite on the side. Next to that there are 2 pizzerias and 1 real restaurant (although for practical Spanish reasons they call themselves Bar). If one considers a pizza, as we have come to know them, as fast food, it is funny to see that even here in rural Andalusia fast food has overtaken the traditional cuisine. Like in many other areas in the world.
The profusion of fast food restaurants in historical city centers all along the Mediterranean – where the most popular menu item are often a dish of spaghetti swimming in a pool of industrially produced carbonara sauce, the earlier mentioned pre fab pizza and let’s not forget of the inevitable hamburger – is just one of the signs that a slow but inexorable change is underway: the end of the Mediterranean diet. This dietary change conceals a social transformation that goes far beyond food. The Mediterranean diet, once a way of life as much as a way of eating, has morphed into something that looks more like a medical recommendation than a reflection of social mores.
The general description of the Mediterranean Diet says that its foundations are “olive oil, an abundance of foods of vegetable origin (fruit, vegetables, pulses and nuts), bread and food made from cereals (pasta, rice); seasonal products that have undergone little or no processing; dairy products (mostly cheese and yogurt), moderate amounts of red meat, if possible as part of stews; a lot of fish; water and wine but only with meals, and daily physical activity.”
In a report that I recently had a glance at – and triggering me to write this post – called Mediterranean Food Consumption Patterns I found that “it is urgent to preserve the cultural heritage of the Mediterranean diet as an outstanding resource for sustainable development as it contributes to promoting local production and consumption, encouraging sustainable agriculture and safeguarding landscapes.” So it is more than just about what we eat.
Although we don’t pretend to serve pure Mediterranean dinners here at El Guarda we are very happy that Montse stays quite close to it. With respect to the physical activity: the guests are on holiday so we have to take over that part….