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10 Mediterranean Scrub’s Food Specialties 0 Comments

10 Mediterranean Scrub’s Food Specialties

A few years ago, I had read the name of a contest "La Macchia nel Piatto", that translates into "The Scub on the plate", which aimed to enhance the use of Mediterranean scrub leaves and fruits, rich in scents with varied nuances to add on taste upon a personal interpretation. I liked the idea very much and so today I wish to use it the title of today's blog article. Would you like to join me and discover how scrub leaves and fruits can be used in the kitchen?

  1. Laurel (Laurus nobilis): an evergreen plant perhaps originating from Asia Minor. It is widespread throughout the Italian coast up to 800 meters above sea level. The leaves are oval and, if cut or crushed, they release a very aromatic scent, used for meat and fish dishes, but also for vegetables in oil and in vinegar. It has digestive, diuretic and tonic-stimulating properties.

  2. Hawthorn (Crataegus Monogyna): with multiple uses, as an ornamental plant, to be burned, as a natural barrier thanks to its thorns, as a remedy for arrhythmia and anxiety. Its fruits are used to prepare syrups or jams, while by drying the inflorescences you can make infusions. 

  3. Caper (Capparis spinosa): it also grows on the walls or between cracks in the rocks (in this case the Latin name is Capparis inermis). The unbloomed bud is used by picking it from May until the end of October. Capers are preserved in salt, in oil but also in vinegar. Their strong and spicy flavour enriches sauces and salads. 

  4. Arbustus (Arbutus unedo): widespread throughout the Mediterranean, this plant has a characteristic round and gaudy fruit that becomes the main ingredient for the preparation of jams, cakes and liqueurs. 

  5. Juniper (Juniperus communis): the flowers turn into round, fleshy and intensely scented berries. Harvested when ripe, of a purplish-blue colour, they are left to desiccate in a dry and ventilated place. They have antiseptic, balsamic and diuretic properties. They are used in preparing game dishes, pork or in marinades for strong flavoured fish.

  6. Lentisk (Pistacia lentiscus): one of the most typical plants of the Mediterranean scrub in Sardinia, often associated with myrtle and olive, has multiple uses, also in the medical field. Its common past use as a substitute for olive oil is today being rediscovered. 

  7. Myrtle (Myrtus Communis): this already used since ancient times for its healing properties or as ink and perfume. The Sardinian roast suckling pig could not be so tasty if not flavoured with myrtle branches. The berries are used to prepare syrups and the famous “Mirto” liqueur, the leaves to flavour red meats and game meat.

  8. Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis): it is one of the most used aromatic plants in the Mediterranean cuisine, in meat dishes as well in side dishes such as baked potatoes. Its name derives from the Latin and could be "sea dew", "sea rose" or "sea shrub".

  9. Sa Figu Morisca: The Prickly Pear (Opuntia Ficus-indica): between April and June the plant blooms in all its splendour. All around the strong green blade, there is a corolla of beautiful flowers: yellow, orange, pink, violet and red. Then the flower withers and the fruit grows at the bottom of the flower, first cylindrical then more and more ovoid. The colour of the fruit takes after the one of its flower: from yellow in different shades up to deep shades of red, which might even remind a Christmas decoration right in the middle of summer. 

  10. Su Zinzulu: The Jujube (Ziziphus): a plant that gives a small fruit rich in nutritional properties (vitamin C, flavonoids, phosphorus and iron) that matures at the end of the summer used by the Sardinians to make liquors, cakes and jams. In fact, a sweet liqueur is made from jujube, which accompanies cakes and dry biscuits, or is used to flavour the sponge cake. 

 “...a shrub, which carries the Mediterranean gene. Close your eyes, inhale and find the sea summer flavour: the dry heat, the thirsty earth, clay and sand...(Licia Granello)

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Written by Daniela Toti

In the photo: hiking trail in Golfo Aranci peninsula

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