October 19, 2023
Adding Mediterranean Into Your Home
The scenic beauty of coastlines, crystal-clear Mediterranean waters, charming towns, stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, embracing la vita lenta (slow life), and delicious Mediterranean cuisine all contribute to the allure and enchantment of living along the Mediterranean. Who wouldn’t want to dive headfirst into this lifestyle? Sipping espresso in a cozy café while watching the world go by or getting lost between narrow streets makes one want to experience this lifestyle forever.
While it may not be the same as visiting the Mediterranean in person, from the Aeolian Islands to the South of France, or if your two-week holiday vacation has just come to a close and you find yourself waiting for next year, adding touches of the Mediterranean lifestyle into your home can help you immerse yourself in its culture, craftsmanship, and lifestyle while holding onto all of your sweet nostalgia.
From pantry staples and cocktail hours to tabletop accessories and decor, discover our simple yet favorite ways to add touches of the Mediterranean into your home.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Mediterranean culture is closely tied to the use of extra virgin olive oil. Olive trees have a long history in the region and have been cherished by generations for their fruit and oil. Olive oil is often seen as a symbol of abundance, health, and peace in Mediterranean cultures. It has been a fundamental ingredient in Mediterranean cuisine for centuries as it is considered a vital component of the Mediterranean diet.
In Mediterranean countries like Italy, Greece, and Spain, extra virgin olive oil is not just used for cooking but also as a must-have condiment and a flavor enhancer, continuously drizzled over salads, pasta, and vegetables, and is favored over other oils for its taste and health benefits.
When shopping for oil, always opt for high-quality oil labeled cold pressed and extra virgin from country origins like Italy and Greece.
From tiles and serving dishes to teacups and vases, hand-painted, artisanal Italian ceramics date back to ancient Roman times. Italian ceramics have remained a vital art form and have become a beautiful and significant part of everyday life in Italy, used to decorate homes, be served at restaurants, and even fill the walls of public spaces.
Places like Sicily, Umbria, Puglia, and the Amalfi Coast are each known for their unique individual techniques, shapes, and patterns. I love to mix and match my ceramics at home, adding endless pops of color and joy from one corner to the next.
Life along the Mediterranean, coffee is a religion. From frothy and milky cappuccinos to hot shots of strong espresso and early mornings making conversations at your local bar, coffee has become my favorite talking point. Believe it or not, enjoying a fresh cup of caffeine at home doesn’t take a fancy espresso machine. Instead, the Moka Pot is their go-to method for making coffee at home which has been around since 1933.
Most Moka Pots are small in size, sleek in design, and optimal in functionality, typically used on a stovetop, where heat from the stove produces steam and pressure to brew the coffee. After use, most Moka Pots in European households are left on the stovetop for display, becoming small but meaningful kitchen accessories.
Aperitivo is indeed an art form in Italy that has diffused across the Mediterranean, representing much more than just a pre-meal drink. It is a cultural tradition deeply ingrained in Italian society as it goes beyond the concept of happy hour by combining the enjoyment of drinks with a culinary experience.
From France to Italy, aperitivo typically occurs after work and before dinner. It is a way to socialize and stimulate the appetite before a main meal. Italians believe the aperitivo ritual prepares the stomach for food while creating an opportunity for conversation and a moment to unwind from the day. It has become one of my favorite past-time rituals with friends, neighbors, and colleagues, and I couldn’t imagine life without it.
Adding this concept into your home is as easy as sipping a refreshing Aperol Spritz with fresh orange wedges. Some popular drinks during aperitivo are variations of Spritz, prosecco, a chilled glass of wine, or even Negroni. I always have a bottle of Campari or Aperol at home, with extra ice percolating in my freezer. Stock your pantry with noteworthy Aperitivo snacks, from taralli to green olives and salty chips, and don’t forget to add a bit of music in the background for a final apero touch.
If coffee is religion, then pasta is unconditional love. Pasta is a staple in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine due to its versatility, low cost, and deliciousness. Although it is expected to believe fresh pasta is best, good, dried pasta is a kitchen must-have and wins the hearts of most avid pasta cookers.
Always opt for Italian durum wheat-dried pasta at your local supermarket for an authentic, high-quality, and flavorful experience. Don’t be afraid to buy various shapes and sizes, as pasta never goes out of style!
Coffee Table Books
I love collecting books whenever I travel, from local bookstores to outdoor market stalls, and adding them to my growing stack on my coffee table. Books at home are my favorite conversation starters that inspire and transport me and my guests in a faraway place.
On par with our Mediterranean theme, look for photography, lifestyle, and cookbooks from your favorite Mediterranean town that will bring memories, color, and dreaming into your home.
Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur that is popular in Italy and around the world. Growing up, I remember my family making this sweet after-dinner drink at home, made by steeping lemon zest in alcohol with a combination of sugar. Limoncello has a bright, lemon flavor with an overall sweet and tart taste.
It is typically served as a digestif, enjoyed chilled in small glasses after a meal, and a small glass bottle can easily be bought and stored at home in your refrigerator for dinner parties, special guests, or even day-to-day living.
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Words and Photographs by Gabriela R. Proietti