FOODMatch founder & President Phil Meldrum recalls his experience on an island in Greece more than twenty years ago when he was inspired to create FOODMatch.
More than twenty years ago, my wife Chantal and I were wandering through an ancient, breathtaking olive grove on a Greek island in the Ionian Sea. Somehow, while exploring the craggy slope, we managed to lose our sense of direction. I knew we weren’t hopelessly lost, so when we paused beneath the rustling, silvery-green canopy of a particularly majestic tree, it was not so much to get our bearings as to rest a bit and let the splendor we were experiencing soak in. The legions of gnarled trees around us glowed as if gilded in the waning afternoon sun. Our idyllic days on the island, the warm golden light, and the waves of the cicada chorus that ebbed and flowed around us in the centuries-old olive trees all stirred our hearts. The moment was sublime.
Our thoughts turned to the antiquity of the trees, some of which locals had told us were planted by the Venetians. We marveled at what human folly those trees may have witnessed over centuries. So much has changed since they first took root, yet so much of what we had experienced on that trip remained unchanged through the ages. Like the grove, the local customs and traditions that we took such delight in were seemingly eternal.
We were fortunate to have been able to immerse ourselves in the wonderful lifestyle of the island, one that often extends well beyond the boundaries of the island to the entire Mediterranean. This lifestyle values traditions, community, family, and time and its purest expression is in the sharing of unhurried, beautiful, healthful meals, simply prepared with local ingredients. At those tables, food is love.
We found our way back up the hills to our host’s home overlooking the sea. At that moment, I became determined to find a way to share and recreate a true Mediterranean experience for others back home. What better way than to introduce the wonderful regional specialties of the Mediterranean to the American table? Using simple Mediterranean-style ingredients and recipes on the following pages, we can all enjoy the culinary and cultural heritage of the Mediterranean and bring some of that lifestyle into our own lives.