The perfect climate combined with amazing wine and delicious foods makes the Mediterranean completely irresistible. Mediterranean countries include Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Syria, Israel, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, and Morocco, meaning there's a huge variety of foods to try here. Now, we all know the Mediterranean is known for wine and seafood, but what exactly is Mediterranean cuisine? To answer your question, here are 20 iconic Mediterranean foods that showcase the best eats this region has to offer.

1. Feta

greek salad, tomato, vegetable, cucumber, salad, cheese, feta cheese, olives
Shelby Cohron

Feta is a classic Mediterranean dairy product that can be enjoyed on Greek salads, paired with zucchini, or even as a simple feta and bread combination. Depending on what country you're in, feta can be made from sheep’s, goat’s, or cow’s milk, or a combination. No matter the animal it comes from, let me be the first to tell you that Mediterranean feta is always fresh

2. Pizza

pizza, mozzarella, crust, spinach, mushroom, sauce
Jaclyn Puccini

This one should be obvious. Even though we think of Italian as a whole cuisine by itself, it's technically still Mediterranean food. And in my opinion, the Mediterranean has the best pizza in the whole world. Since the Mediterranean is home to so many fresh foods (like tomatoes), it's hard to go wrong when it comes to pizza. You really haven't lived until you've had pizza in Italy, am I right? 

3. Lentils & Yogurt

According to Huffington Post, lentils folded into yogurt, spinach, and basil is a Mediterranean classic that's super easy to make yourself. On their own, lentils and yogurt are very popular in this area and are consumed on the daily. For those of you working toward that healthy Mediterranean bod (like me), here are 11 lentil recipes fit for every meal

4. Spanakopita

Spanakopita is a Greek dish that's basically a spinach pie. I'll be honest, I was a bit weary of trying this savory pastry at first, but had absolutely no regrets when I was finished. I was in Greece for about four days last year, and I think I had spanakopita from Attica Bakery at least six times. 

5. Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush is a Levantine dish made mostly of eggplant, tahini, spices, garlic, and in some cases, yogurt. In the Eastern Mediterranean, it's common to serve Baba Ganoush before dinner, as what we might consider an appetizer as guests arrive and socialize. It can be served as a dip or enjoyed on sandwiches.

6. Hummus 

hummus, vegetable
Greta Garland

Speaking of appetizers, hummus is another healthy way to begin a meal in the Mediterranean. Hummus is very popular in this area of the world and is made with ground chickpeas and sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon, and garlic. What makes Mediterranean hummus so special is that it's often paired with fresh bread, fruits, and veggies. You just can't beat that fresh goodness. 

7. Salad

chicken, salad, meat, lettuce, vegetable
Michelle Miller

Seriously? Salad? Even though it might sound boring, the Mediterranean is home to some of the best salads in the world. Generally, Mediterranean foods are very healthy. It's hard to find salads fresher than these and there are so many to choose from. As mentioned before, the Greek salad with feta is extremely popular. You can also go for a fresh tuna salad, Mediterranean Cobb salad, a zucchini ribbon salad with fresh balsamic, or even a potato salad. The list goes on and on. 

8. Paella

paella, seafood, shrimp, rice
Nicolette Contella

I had paella for the first time in Barcelona and WOW my life was changed. Paella is a Spanish rice dish prepared in a shallow pan. It can be made with chicken, shrimp, chorizo, lobster, etc. This dish has literally been around for thousands of years, so there are many different recipes you can try.

9. Fish

fish, seafood, sardine, mackerel
Dea Uy

Being so close to the water, it's no surprise that seafood appears a lot in Mediterranean dishes. I was never a huge seafood person, but living in Southern France changed my whole perspective. I even tried sardines and wasn't completely grossed out. Moral of the story: Mediterranean seafood is FRESH and you won't regret at least trying it. 

10. Ratatouille

vegetable, pepper, courgette, tomato, meat, ratatouille
Christin Urso

You might know Ratatouille as that cute little cooking rat from the 2007 Pixar film, but people of the Mediterranean know it as a tasty summer dish. Ratatouille is a stewed vegetable meal that consists of tomatoes, garlic, onions, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, marjoram, fennel, and basil. This is one of my favorite dishes because it originated in Nice, one of my favorite Mediterranean cities.

11. Greek Gyros

meat, bread, gyro, sandwich, beef, vegetable, lettuce
Net Supatravanij

Sure, you've probably had a gyro in America. But, you haven't really had a gyro until you've been to Greece. Along with spanakopita, I spent my days in Greece chowing down on these bad boys while listening to the Mama Mia! soundtrack

12. Tomato, Avocado, and Basil Salad

I know, I know, another salad. But this one deserved a feature all to itself. My French host mom made this salad for me pretty often because she knew it was my favorite. Though it's simply delightful on its own, we often paired it with chorizo sausage for a perfect combination. This meal is easy to make and will take your tastebuds to the Mediterranean. 

13. Tuscan Chicken

Oh, the things I would do to be back in Tuscany right now. Tuscany is a region in Italy that includes cities, like Florence, that are thriving in the food game. You simply can't go to Tuscany without trying Tuscan chicken and pasta. This dish is so easy to make that my friends and I made it ourselves while staying in an AirBnb in Florence. 

14. Tapas

tomato, canape, cheese, vegetable, bread, antipasto, sandwich, toast, lettuce, appetizer, Tapas
Amelia Hitchens

Barcelona strikes again. Here's another example of how Mediterranean foods changed my life for the better. I had never had tapas until I spent a weekend in Barcelona. My friends and I came across this bar that was serving €1 tapas and this was a highlight of the trip. Tapas are popular in Spain and can be served warm or cold, casual or fancier. 

15. Baklava

sauce, cake, sweet, syrup, honey, pastry, baklava, Greece, Greek food, European food
Julia Gilman

Baklava is a traditional Mediterranean dessert that will activate every single sweet tooth in your mouth. This delicious pastry is made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and held together with syrup or honey. Baklava is so good that it's actually become controversial as to what country invented it. The Greek, Turkish, and Middle Easterners all claim baklava as their own, and prepare it in their own unique ways.

16. Falafel

meat, vegetable, parsley, beef, pork, falafel, bread, mince
Becky Hughes

Falafel is a Middle Eastern dish that originated in either Libya or Egypt, but it's also a common Mediterranean food. Sadly, I only had the opportunity to try falafel once while studying abroad, but oh man was that experience a good one. For those of you who are wondering what the heck it is, falafel is a deep-fried ball, doughnut ,or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both.

17. Couscous

kale, spinach, quinoa, rice
Catherine Vo

Couscous is another traditional Mediterranean pasta dish that originated in Northern Africa. Even though it looks like rice, it's actually made of grains, which make it a pasta. This healthy dish can be served as a main course, side dish, or even as a snack.

18. Tomatoes

cherry tomato, pasture, cherry, tomato, vegetable
Caroline Ingalls

When I think about tomatoes, my mind goes directly to Italy and the Mediterranean. As I said before, this area of the world has some of the freshest tomatoes you can find. That's part of the reason why pizza and pasta just taste so damn good here. In my opinion, you just can't beat a good caprese salad with fresh tomatoes. 

19. Gelato

chocolate, candy, sweet, cake, cream, goody, gelato, icecream, dessert
Amelia Hitchens

We're toward the end of our list, and it just wouldn't be fair if I didn't include gelato. During the four months I spent in Southern France and the Mediterranean, I took thousands of photos. I would bet that a vast majority of them were gelato pics. No matter the flavor and no matter the country, gelato is the dessert that will never let you down. 

20. Wine

wine, tea, alcohol, juice, sweet, cocktail, liquor, Sangria, Spain, Barcelona, red wine
Amelia Hitchens

Anyone who knows me probably saw this coming. Though it's technically not a food, wine, in my opinion, is what sets the Mediterranean apart from other areas of the world. From rosé in Southern France, sangria in Spain, and red wine from Italy, you just can't go wrong.

#SpoonTip: If you have the opportunity, I highly suggest Bandol and Cassis for wine tasting in Southern France.

As you can tell, Mediterranean foods differ depending on which country you're in. Nevertheless, these foods are known worldwide and people will travel from near and far just to indulge in their goodness. If I learned anything from sampling Mediterranean foods, it's that it is 100% worth it to try them ALL.