Mediterranean spices are those spices commonly used in Mediterranean cuisines, which can be roughly defined as the cuisines of Southern Europe, Northern Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean.


Types

Such spices as saffron, nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and cloves tend to dominate in North African cuisine. Rosemary, thyme, basil, bay laurel, parsley and sage are more characteristic of Southern European cuisine. Dill, mint, sumac and allspice are popular in the Eastern Mediterranean.


Uses

Mediterranean spices may be used in a number of countries, but for different applications. For instance, in France, cinnamon is used exclusively to enhance the flavor of sweet dishes, while it is used in savory dishes as well in Turkey.


Function

Mediterranean countries are bounded by the Mediterranean Sea; seafood, therefore, plays an important part in all Mediterranean cuisines. Tomatoes, eggplant, lamb and chickpeas are also pervasive. Spices in Mediterranean cuisines are used to enhance these ingredients.


Features

Mediterranean cuisines are famed for the variety and freshness of their spices. Although the foods of the Mediterranean are extremely varied, garlic and olive oil are common elements across all cuisines.


History

The Mediterranean region is exceptionally fertile, making it easy for herbs and spices to flourish there. Additionally, proximity to trade routes historically allowed Mediterranean countries more access to spices than landlocked countries.