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August 2010 
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Events in Season
American Culinary Federation National Convention
Anaheim, CA
August 2-5

SF Chefs 2010
San Francisco
August 9-15

Fairfield Tomato Festival
August 14-15
Fairfield, CA

Western Foodservice & Hospitality Expo
August 14-16
Los Angeles

 A Primer on the Mediterranean Diet
Olive trees dominate much of the rural landscapes of the countries ringing the Mediterranean Sea. And the trees' oil is a pillar of the region's cuisine. "As  Olive Tree Pugliafar as the Mediterranean diet is concerned, olive oil is fundamental," says food writer and historian Nancy Harmon Jenkins, an expert on Mediterranean cuisine.

Think couscous from Morocco, tapas small plates and romesco sauce from Spain, countless pasta dishes from Italy, and fattoush, a Lebanese variation of tabbouleh.

Below you'll find a variety of Mediterranean recipes we've assembled: spaghetti with white clam sauce from Italy's Puglia region; grilled summer vegetables from Tunisia; and mixed greens and tomatoes with black-eyed peas from the Greek island of Crete.

The cuisine's popularity can be linked to its great taste. But there's a bonus: Scientific research since the mid-20 century has repeatedly suggested that eating a Mediterranean diet can be good for your heart, your brain, and your overall well being.

"It's consistently supported the overall benefits of a Mediterranean-type diet," says Walter Willett, chairman of the nutrition department at the Harvard School of Public Health and an early proponent of the Mediterranean way of eating. "It's really healthy in many ways."

How best to describe the foods that the people of the Mediterranean eat?
Puglia Market at Martina Franca
"It's a diet based primarily on vegetables, fruit, legumes and whole grains," says Jenkins, the cooking expert. "Olive oil is the principal fat."

Butter and trans fats like margarine are out.  Meanwhile, fish and shellfish are important sources of healthy protein. Poultry is eaten in moderate amounts and red meat is eaten minimally.

And don't forget to go ahead and enjoy one or two glasses of wine a day.

What are the health benefits? The Boston food think tank Oldways cites research suggesting a Mediterranean food regimen can help:
  • Fight certain cancers
  • Lower your risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, and elevated levels of LDL "bad cholesterol"
  • Protect you from Alzheimer's disease
  • Fend off depression
  • Ward off Parkinson's
  • Defend you from chronic diseases
Puglia Market at Martina Franca Legumes
Uncle Sam also believes Mediterranean cuisine is good for you. The committee advising the U.S. government on new federal dietary guidelines recently singled out the Mediterranean diet as one of the best documented examples of a healthy diet. The challenge: How to get more and more Americans eating a plant-based diet like that found in the Mediterranean.

Greg Dresher, executive director of strategic initiatives at the Culinary Institute of America's Napa Valley campus, offers this solution: "We need to focus on how to make plant foods as sexy as double cheeseburgers."

 Featured Mediterranean Recipes
Courtesy of Our Featured Chef Joyce Goldstein

Artichoke Fresh from California

Recipe credit: Mediterranean Fresh (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008), by Joyce Goldstein

Couscous Salad with Almonds, Raisins, and Saffron Onions
Recipe credit: Mediterranean Fresh (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008), by Joyce Goldstein

Additional Recipes

Artichoke Fresh from CaliforniaSpaghetti with White Clam Sauce
Recipe credit: Maria Pignatelli Ferrante, Puglia: A Culinary Memoir (Oronzo Editions, 2008)
Recipe courtesy of Oronzo Editions

Eggplant Parmigiana
Recipe credit: Maria Pignatelli Ferrante, Puglia: A Culinary Memoir (Oronzo Editions, 2008)
Recipe courtesy of Oronzo Editions

Fried Eggplant
Recipe credit: Maria Pignatelli Ferrante, Puglia: A Culinary Memoir (Oronzo Editions, 2008)
Recipe courtesy of Oronzo Editions

Crete's Mixed Greens and Tomatoes with Black-Eyed PeasCrete's Mixed Greens and Tomatoes with Black-Eyed Peas
Courtesy of Paula Wolfert for The Oldways Table

Courtesy of Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Dried Fava Beans with Broccoli RabeDried Fava Beans with Bitter Greens
Recipe Credit: Flavors of Puglia (Broadway Books, 1997), by Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Tunisian Medley of Grilled Summer Vegetables

Recipe Credit: The Essential Mediterranean (HarperCollins Publishers, 2003), by Nancy Harmon Jenkins

Mediterranean Summer Stew of Vegetables
Recipe credit: The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook (Bantam Dell, 2009), by Nancy Harmon Jenkins

 Featured Chef
Joyce Goldstein
Joyce Goldstein stumbled into the restaurant business. A self-taught cook and cooking teacher, Goldstein got a call in 1980 from her son Evan, a busboy at the now legendary Berkeley, Calif., restaurant Chez Panisse.
Joyce GoldsteinCould mom fill in as the restaurant's baker for six weeks and make the bread, the pizza dough, and the fresh pasta? Chez Panisse's then baker, now famous bread maker Steve Sullivan, was going on vacation. Goldstein hadn't worked a day in a restaurant. She was hesitant.

"Come on, mom. You can do it!" 19-year-old Evan responded.

So mom "did it," as Goldstein recalls. "I was nervous about it. But when I went in I knew I was born to be in a restaurant." After serving three years as the chef at the new café at Chez Panisse, Goldstein opened her own pioneering Mediterranean restaurant in 1984: San Francisco-based Square One. At age 49, she was a tad late to the restaurant business. "I must have been out of my mind," she says.

Age wasn't an issue, however. The eatery garnered high praise for its diverse menu. It helped unleash the Mediterranean food craze. Goldstein herself collected numerous accolades and awards, including a James Beard award for Best Chef in California for 1993.

Today, Goldstein, 75, is busy as a restaurant and food industry consultant, a culinary instructor, and a prolific cookbook author. Goldstein closed Square One in 1996, after a dozen years. She wanted to avoid burnout, and devote more time to traveling and her family.

"I can't continue at this pace and smell the roses, too," Goldstein told customers.
Joyce Goldstein 2
The restaurant's name reflected Goldstein's vow to "start cooking from scratch" every day, or "from square one." She also wanted to move beyond the traditional Mediterranean foods restaurants were serving at the time.

Goldstein and staffers prepared dishes from Spain, Portugal, Greece, Turkey, the Middle East and North Africa, in addition to the already popular cuisine from Mediterranean countries such as Italy and France. Popular dishes included: fattoush, a Lebanese variation of tabbouleh; seafood zarzuela with romesco sauce from Spain; and Moroccan lamb dishes with couscous and vegetable tagines. Regional Italian meals were served Wednesdays. "Those were greatly researched and deeply loved," says Goldstein.

Why the Mediterranean focus?

Goldstein had lived in Rome with her former husband in 1959-1960. She fell in love with the country and the region - the climate, the architecture, and the food. After a good restaurant dish, Goldstein would tell herself: "Remember what this tastes like. I have to go home and make this."

Ironically, Goldstein was raised in a home with bad cooking. "I grew up in Brooklyn with overcooked Jewish food. There's nothing worse," she laughs. "The meat was gray. The vegetables were mushy."

But there was also an upside. "We ate out a lot at really good restaurants," says Goldstein, who grew up in Brooklyn in the 1940s and 1950s. The family dined on steaks at the famed Peter Luger Steak House, oysters, lobsters and steamers at Lundy's Restaurant, and weiner schnitzel, wild game, and other German fare at Lüchow's.

The experience opened Goldstein's eyes to good food. But it didn't whet her appetite to become a chef. She was focused on becoming an artist. After getting her bachelor's degree from Smith College, Goldstein attended Yale to study painting with the German-born American artist Josef Albers.  

It was in New Haven that Goldstein got the cooking bug. She had her own apartment. And she bought the Joy of Cooking, Elizabeth David's Mediterranean Cooking, and The New York Times Cook Book. "I taught myself. It's called trial and error," Goldstein says. "I fed my friends."

After graduating from Yale in 1959 with a master's degree in fine arts, Goldstein pursued a painting career. Her works were exhibited at galleries and museums. But motherhood eventually halted that in the mid-1960s. "After three kids I didn't have time to paint."

Soon afterward, in 1966, Goldstein began teaching cooking to home cooks. She did that for 18 years . . . until that fateful call from her son at Chez Panisse.

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