Some people take vacations. Other people, they have experiences. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with taking a vacation. We all need to get away sometimes. But when the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture presents itself, you have to take the dip. That’s certainly the case when you board one of our ships for Mediterranean cruises. It’s not a vacation, it’s cultural immersion.
And few things are as interwoven into the fabric of a culture than its cuisine. From the spices and ingredients used in preparation to local dining customs, food is a defining characteristic of a region. Your Mediterranean adventure will provide endless opportunities for sightseeing, tourist traps and selfies. But it’ll also be an opportunity for authentic epicurean experiences you’d never have the opportunity to experience back home.
Before you board your ship and sail away on one of our Mediterranean cruises, we’d like you to join us on a tour of some of the cuisine you’ll enjoy along the way.
A Tour of Italy
No trek through the Mediterranean is complete without a stop in Italy. Rome and Sicily are common destinations for passengers of our Mediterranean cruises. Each of these stops are bastions of culinary delights and feature restaurants with warm, inviting atmospheres. The ubiquity of Italian-inspired dining in the United States gives authentic Italian food a sense of familiarity. But once you step off your Celebrity Cruise ship and into a Roman or Sicilian restaurant, you realize much of what we’re familiar with are American reinterpretations.
Pizza Bianca, for example, translates to “white pizza,” and is a light, fluffy, and crispy focaccia bread found in bakeries throughout Rome. Of course, pasta is among the first dishes that come to mind when you think of Italian cuisine. And when you’re in Sicily, sampling a healthy serving of Pasta alla Norma is a requirement. This dish is commonly found throughout the Catania side of Sicily. Its served on short pasta, and its ingredients include aubergine, tomato sauce and salted ricotta.
Assorted Greek Treats
Italy is heralded for its selection of cheeses, but Crete is among the world’s premier destinations for savory bites. With the plethora of options available, you could almost plan a cheese tasting tour as you make your way through the Cretan villages. Among the islands dairy favorites graviera, pichtogalo Chanion and mizithra, all of which pair well with the right wine.
Of course, you want more than cheese when you get to Greece. The people of Athens will certainly have your culinary requirements covered should one of our Mediterranean cruises lead you there. While there are assortments of dishes and treats to be savored, one of the most popular is somewhat of an unexpected favorite due to its main ingredient. Spanakopita, which translates to spinach pie, is a staple of local cuisine.
You probably don’t plan to eat healthy when you’re on a multi-stop vacation, but Spanakopita offers a rare chance to eat something nutritious and delicious. It’s a filo pastry filled with herbs, spicy feta cheese, spring onions, eggs, and olive oil. The crust is a bit flaky, so have napkins ready.
A Taste of Spain
Spain has a rich culture and tumultuous history. Its history is so rich that some of the country’s most harrowing moments influenced the creation of one of signature dishes. One of Barcelona’s favorite dishes is named La Bomba. La Bomba is essentially a tennis-ball-sized potato croquette. It was inspired by handmade grenades revolutionaries flung from their windows during the Spanish Civil War nearly a century ago. La Bomba directly translates to “the bomb,” and its served with two different sauces that represent the lighting of the grenades and explosive power. If any dish is as much an exercise in cultural immersion as it is a culinary delight, it’s La Bomba.
With its stunning beaches and lush landscape, the island of Palma de Mallorca attracts worldwide visitors. But while you’ll come for the views, you may just end up remembering it for the food. However, you should be warned that many of their delicacies are not for the faint of heart. Take Frito Mallorquín, for example. The popular dish is stuffed with potatoes, spicy red pepper, artichokes, peas, fennel tops, olive oil, chilli, garlic. Black pudding is often a key ingredient, but it’s not something to expect. If one of our Mediterranean cruises stops here, be sure to bring your appetite.
The Inviting Aromas of Jerusalem
As arguably the world’s holiest city, it’s hard to walk five steps without encountering historically significant sites and resplendent monuments. Naturally, exploring the region by foot works up quite an appetite. And just like Jerusalem sates your appetite for exploration and discovery, so do its culinary offerings.
Falafels are one of the delights that have made their way over to western Hemisphere and been embraced by most. But you haven’t had a falafel until you’ve had a falafel in Jerusalem. Falafel’s in Jerusalem are expertly handcrafted, and there’s constant debate as to whose falafel is the best. From open-jawed pitas to flat blanket-sized pitas, making a falafel is an art form. Common fillings include pickles, peppers. And for extra flavor, fresh Jerusalem falafels often come with tomato salad moistened with tahini and extra-tangy green sauces.
A falafel is delicious, but likely feels safe and familiar. If you really want to branch out, you should give tahini a try. One of Jerusalem’s most traditional dishes, Tahini can be eaten on its own or used as a dip or topping for meat. For the best of both worlds, you can ask that your falafel be topped with a dollop of tahini.
Mediterranean cruises are a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people. There’s a lot to see, people to meet and a lot to taste. If your next trip to the Mediterranean is your first, make the most of it. And you can’t make the most of it without enjoying the tastes of the towns.