Over the last three years, I have followed the issues of Mediterranean-ness with great interest, on a daily basis, both during the preparations for the candidacy of the Mediterranean Diet for entry on the list of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and also in programmes for its protection, appreciation improvement and dissemination.
But this book does not focus on the work of this successful candidacy, or even on interesting day-to-day exchanges with institutions, specialists and populations.I have tried to make the texts accessible for everyone, and their starting point lies in the questions, uncertainties and problems raised by the complexity of the issues which form part of what we call the Mediterranean Diet. I set off in search of a symbolic, experiential universe, looking for answers to the natural questions posed by life today, and aware of the fact that many questions have yet to be completely answered.
I have looked for what led to the recognition of the intangibility of this aspect of the Mediterranean diet and then to its promotion to the cultural heritage of humanity.The knowledge and products of the Mediterranean Diet can be applied in many ways in medicine, nutrition, pharmaceutical products, cosmetics, farming and tourism, architecture and landscaping.Portugal meets both the Atlantic and the inḀuences of peoples from Central and Northern Europe, but has an essentially Mediterranean culture, with the regions to the south of the River Tagus, and particularly the Algarve, being where these characteristics can be seen most clearly. For this reason, a whole chapter has been dedicated to the Algarve and to Tavira, showing why this lovely historic Algarve town was rightly chosen as the community to represent Portugal in its candidacy, which was subsequently approved by UNESCO in Baku.As is typical of Mediterranean culture, this book is a gesture of sharing and conviviality with its readers, the return of a collective heritage, and a reḀection on a multi-faceted culture which has created a new universalism and has, without question, left its mark on humanity.