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Mediterranean cuisine is the food from the cultures adjacent to the Mediterranean Sea. Although this region spans a wide variety of cultures, the historical connections of the region have led to there being many common elements in the foods.
Whether "Mediterranean cuisine" is a useful category is disputed:
The idea of the ‘standard Mediterranean’ ... is a modern construction of food writers and publicists in Europe and North America earnestly preaching what is now thought to be a healthy diet to their audiences by invoking a stereotype of the healthy other on the shores of the Mediterranean. Their colleagues in Mediterranean countries are only too wilres of the Middle East, London and New York, 1994 and 2000, ISBN 1-86064-603-4.</ref>
...there really is no such thing as "Mediterranean cuisine." At the same time, we seem to know what we mean when we use the expression....
The varied cuisines of the Mediterranean have developed over the millennia, with notable regional changes happening with the introduction of New World foods starting in the 16th century. The concept of a Mediterranean cuisine, however, is very recent, probably dating from the publication of Elizabeth David's Book of Mediterranean Food in 1950—though David herself spoke of Mediterranean "food", "cookery", or "cooking".
The Mediterranean diet, popularized in the 1970s, is sometimes conflated with Mediterranean cuisine:
Around 1975, under the impulse of one of those new nutritional directives by which good cooking is too often influenced, the Americans discovered the so-called Mediterranean diet. The name even pleased Italian government officials, who made one modification: changing from diet—a word which has always seemed punitive and therefore unpleasant—to Mediterranean cuisine.