16 November: On this day in 2010 the Mediterranean Diet was inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

The word “diet” comes from the Greek and can be translated as “a way of life” and there’s no doubt that the Mediterranean one is a series of one-way streets that all meet up at what is, according to UNESCO, “the foundation of the cultural identity and continuity of communities”: mealtime.

To better grasp this concept let’s turn – as always – to one of the fathers of European culture: Dante Alighieri. In his “Convivio”, the Italian poet imagines a banquet, the purpose of which is to disseminate knowledge and to which, for the first time ever, women have also been invited. Similarly to enlightened knowledge, is it not inclusivity that makes for a good table? The word “convivio” (banquet) comes from a word with an even deeper meaning, that of ‘living together’ , and there is no doubt that our ‘closed’ Mediterranean Sea has been overflowing with conviviality since the dawn of time. It is said that the Emperor Claudius sparked much opposition when he proposed admitting Gauls to the Roman Senate; his rebuttal was: “But weren’t your illustrious ancestors Etruscans, Sabines or Samnites when they were fighting against Romulus?” In those ancient times anyone could, if they so wished, assume a Mediterranean identity.

As for us, if we are to consider ourselves worthy heirs we’ll need to be insatiable when it comes to gorging on inclusivity. Let’s bring to the table the “fiat lux” concept too, one which also saw the light on these Mediterranean shores.

Name Day:
St Margaret of Scotland