As a whole, the Mediterranean is my favorite part of the world for food. It’s simple, made with fresh ingredients and is very “user-friendly.” From Greece to Israel, the regional cuisines from the eastern part of the Mediterranean area have a lot in common.

Globe eggplant is a popular and common ingredient. It may have a slightly different flavor per country, but that’s because, like wine, many vegetables are affected by the soil and climate differences. In the region, they also use a lot of olive oil, beans, nuts, olives, pomegranates, cucumbers, dried fruit and sesame seeds. Spices include coriander, sumac, anise and saffron, along with herbs like mint, parsley, thyme and oregano.

Our instructor, Carol, then explained the way of eating as very different than what we’re used to. There are no appetizers, mains and desserts. Instead, the food goes on the table all at once, family style. This is called Mezze.