If maintaining your health is top of mind for you recently, due to the omnipresent pandemic, now may be an opportune time to think more broadly about health as a lifestyle. Many aspects of life contribute to human health, often based on the choices a person makes. In the category of food, Jewish culture for millennia has hinged on the patterns of kashrut, and the dietary laws that spell out what is and is not acceptable to eat. Fahri Ozdil, owner-operator of Café Mediterranean, unwittingly proposed a twist, an addendum, for Jewish diners-out to consider. Within the confines of kosher-style dining, a healthy pillar should be the Mediterranean diet, he contends.
“The Mediterranean diet is the best way for all peoples to eat; the most healthy way for peoples to eat, and everybody (didactic dietitians) they study the Mediterranean diet and they say it is the best for healthy eating.”
With the word “Mediterranean” in his restaurant’s name, one might want to take Ozdil’s contention with a grain or two of salt. For starters, unanimous agreement on anything is hard to come by these days, probably including where the sun rises every morning. But to his credit, Osdil is right to say that a wide swath of dietary academia express high regard for the Mediterranean diet. Because of this dietary endorsement, the Mediterranean diet has been highly touted for its health benefits. According to RN and Dietitian Samantha Cassetty, “hundreds of studies point to the fact that people who live in the Mediterranean basin enjoy longer, healthier lives…” She states that while people living across the region enjoy a variety of foods, essentially, the entire region adheres to the same eating patterns, aka the Mediterranean diet.
Ozdil’s eatery features a menu replete with food choices that support the eating patterns of Mediterranean culinary culture, he says. What’s more, during the shutdown and its aftermath, he says that one reason people have chosen his food for carryout is that it travels and rewarms well: “Mediterranean cuisine is very good for this, very good for carryout: easy to warm up and everything is fresh,” he stated. “We are making it for carryout, and we are doing very well with that and people, they like it because it is healthy and good when they are eating our food.”
As for the Mediterranean diet, Cassetty writes we should eat more plants—a lot more plants! Eat a plant-centric diet, in fact, of fruits, vegetables and minimally processed whole grains. Other dietary axioms include: eating plant-based oils, such as olive oil, and those from nuts, seeds and fruits such as avocados; eating fish twice weekly, such as salmon, tuna and sardines; doing dairy “right,” which means eating cheese and yogurt, perhaps daily, but in measured, small amounts; drink wine—yes!—but in moderation, and red is better than white; and reduce eating sugar and refined grains, eating them only rarely, as treats rather than part of a daily or weekly dietary routine.
“We are doing this with the Mediterranean diet, and that is why our food is more healthy, and better for the peoples who eat this way, including our Jewish diners who come here,” Ozdil said.
In a recent Dining Out article, Ozdil spoke of the Mediterranean or European sea bass as an example of the cuisine he is promoting. He grills this popular fish, which is indigenous to the Mediterranean Sea, along with the Atlantic Ocean along the coasts of North Africa, Spain and France. “Yes, the fish, it comes fresh here, never they freeze it, but it is packed inside ice and we get it here at Café Mediterranean,” he said.
“We cook it the Turkish way, using the herbs, and it is the best fish many people say they have ever had.”
At Ozdil’s eatery, all grilling is done over charcoal, which adds a depth of flavor that grilling over gas heat lacks. He also stated that kabobs of chicken and beef, filet mignon beef, are done in the same fashion. The kabobs have been a hot item on the carryout list over the past several months, according to Ozdil. Also, the Turkish-style pizza has been a carryout favorite.
Now that dining indoors is permitted, Ozdil said he wanted to thank diners who have returned to the restaurant. “We have the patio and we are doing well with that and people in the restaurant too. People are very comfortable with the spacing because we are doing more, the spacing more like 10-12 feet instead of six, so people, they feel very comfortable with the spacing, especially indoors.”
See you at Café Mediterranean!
3520 Erie Ave.