Love Thy Lebanese Cuisine
Lebanese food… the very name brings to mind delicious falafel, protein rich hummus, mouth-watering shawarmas, sweet and flaky baklavas, succulent kebabs and other culinary delights which can keep a foodie engaged for hours together! Below are some delicious food facts about the historical and rich cuisine, which has fed our stomachs and gladdened our hearts since centuries.
- Lebanon, situated at the crossroads of three continents, Europe, Africa and Asia, includes a culinary history that is as diverse as its traditions and cultural influences. Its food is particularly influenced by Levantine, Arabic, Ottoman, French, Greek, Egyptian and Syrian food cultures.
- Fresh herbs and spices are a major component of Lebanese cuisine which avoids heavy sauces to spice up the food. Fruits, raw as well as pickled vegetables, olive oil, nuts, seeds, chickpeas, pulses, garlic, lemons, meats such as lamb and chicken, fish and low-fat dairy products such as yoghurt are other important ingredients in Lebanese dishes. The assortment of these ingredients as well as others makes Lebanese cuisine a complete ‘health food’.
- A Lebanese meal usually begins with ‘mezza’ or ‘mezze’, a healthy combination of salad, dips and nuts.
- It is followed by a variety of delicious preparations that are shared around the table with a lot of love and laughter. Sharing is a common practice in Lebanese homes as food is never eaten alone. The Lebanese believe that food is life and must be enjoyed in the company of others.
- Bread, usually served in the form of pita or flat bread, is another staple in Lebanese meals and is frequently referred to as ‘esh’, meaning ‘life’ in Arabic.
- Like other ancient and culturally rich cuisines of the world, Lebanese cuisine too gives special importance to the presentation of food. Food is served in an artistic style, which makes it even more pleasing to look at and to savour!
- Desserts are a meal in itself and are accompanied with ahweh (black cardamom-flavoured coffee) or tea. The desserts too are artistically arranged and usually include fresh fruits, baklava, ashta (sweets filled with clotted cream), Ma’amoul bil Tamer (shortbread filled with date paste) ghraybeh, (shortbread stuffed with nuts), sfouf (eggless turmeric cake), booza (ice cream), puddings and cookies.