Mediterranean countries, gifted with perfect climate and fertile lands, produce lots of fruit and vegetables; hence their cuisine is not only flavorful, but also healthy. Here’s a list of Mediterranean fast foods, popular, easy to prepare, cheap and delicious, but also fairly beneficial when it comes to health (or at least not unhealthy, which, for a Mediterranean Fast Food, is already an accomplishment).
Greeks are crazy about Souvlaki: it’s yummy, fast and relatively healthy, in comparison to the Western-style fast foods. It consists of little pieces of meat, sometimes also grilled vegetables. Served on a skewer to be eaten out of hand, in pita bread or on a dinner plate, souvlaki is the traditional food of hungry party-animals going back home at night and busy Greeks running to have a quick lunch on a break from work. It’s cheap, quick and simple.
Italian pasta is not only fast, but also delicious. Being served with a plate of wonderfully smelling, colourful pasta, you’d think preparing such a sophisticated dish takes a lot of time, but actually there are ways to make it very quickly. Italians have this magical skill of adding perfect amounts of spices, giving a unique character to all the dishes, even the simplest ones. An example: spaghetti served only with olive oil, chilli and garlic. Nothing more, yet it tastes heavenly.
Pizza, the Italian speciality, has spread all around Europe. Even though nobody has so far beaten Italians, you can taste excellent pizzas in many Mediterranean countries. There are plenty of fast food bars selling pizza by slices. You don’t have to wait for a chef to prepare it, you also don’t have to buy the whole thing. It’s especially convenient if you’re just a bit hungry. The most famous and classical pizza is Margherita. It’s also the one that more than any other deserves to be called a Mediterranean fast food, because it’s simple and made of very few ingredients. The oven-baked flat bread is topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil. It was named after the Queen Margherita, who wanted her dinners to represent colours of Italian flag: red (tomatoes), green (basil) and white (mozzarella).
Don’t ever confuse pizza with focaccia, especially in front of an Italian, because you’ll have to watch a dramatic scene (Italians are very sensitive about their cuisine) and listen to a long lecture listing all differences between these two dishes. Focaccia is flat oven-baked bread. Its texture is similar to pizzas, but not the same (remember). Pizza dough has a very thin and flexible crust, while focaccia consists more leavening making the dough grow higher. Because of the big amount of baker’s yeast, the focaccia’s dough is very firm and can absorb a lot of olive oil. Besides, focaccias are usually more salty. They’re usually topped with herbs or olives.
Italian cuisine is incredibly rich and varied, that’s why one more example of Mediterranean fast food comes from there. Bruschetta is a lovely starter, made of grilled bread seasoned with garlic and olive oil. Toppings vary and may include tomatoes, veggies, basil, cheese, sometimes also barbecued meat. These are the most common ingredients, but bruschetta is a great dish to experiment with. It all sounds ridiculously simple, doesn’t it? It is indeed, but it’s also incredibly yummy. Bruschetta is another proof that to prepare something delicious, you don’t have to spend hours in the kitchen.
This time something from another part of Europe – Börek was probably invented in Turkey, but now it’s very popular all around Balkans. It’s a group of baked pastries, made of thin dough, with the top that is often covered with sesame seeds. In the countries of former Yugoslavia, burek can be bought in any bakery or stores that specialize specifically in this dish. In some countries, like Serbia, Slovenia or Macedonia, burek is made of layers of dough and stuffed with cheese, onions and/or stewed minced meat. It’s fatty, satiating and addictive.
The Tortilla Española is a traditional Spanish dish made of eggs, potatoes and olive oil. It’s famous all across Spain and served both in small bars, as a Mediterranean fast food, and fancier restaurants, as an appetizer. Different regions of Spain offer a variety of tortillas, yet the basic one can be found everywhere. Onion is quite commonly added, but not everybody believes it should be a part of tortilla, so restaurants even distinguish the two kinds. In menus you might often find the Tortilla de patatas (the basic) and the Tortilla de patatas con cebolla (with onion). Tortilla is rather easy to prepare, but it requires a bit of experience or at least the right approach. The secret of perfect tortilla lies in ideally cut potatoes that get nicely soft, when mixed with the eggs and fried. Tortilla is usually served as tapa, a Spanish appetizer.