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Cuisine in Lebanon


Lebanese cuisine is considered to be a Mediterranean Levantine Arabic delicacy consisting of a variety of fresh vegetarian recipes, salads and stews all seasoned with a flavoursome combination of herbs and spices. One of the most world known Lebanese specialities is called the maza (also written mezze), which is a selection of appetisers: olives, cheeses, labenah, or small portions also known as muqabbilat (Arabic for starters). Also, a Lebanese parsley salad known as tabouleh, is very popular and enjoyed by many cultures. It is made with parsley, green onions, tomatoes, fresh lemon juice, olive oil and salt.

As with most Mediterranean cuisines, Lebanese cuisine is considered to be a very balanced, healthy diet.

The cuisine of Lebanon is the epitome of the Mediterranean diet. It includes an abundance of starches, fruits, vegetables, fresh fish and seafood; animal fats are consumed sparingly. Poultry is eaten more often than red meat, and when red meat is eaten it is usually lamb. It also includes copious amounts of garlic and olive oil-nary a meal goes by in Lebanon that does not include these two ingredients. Most often foods are either grilled, baked or sautéed in olive oil; butter or cream is rarely used other than in a few desserts. Vegetables are often eaten raw or pickled as well as cooked. While the cuisine of Lebanon doesn't boast an entire repertoire of sauces, it focuses on herbs, spices and the freshness of ingredients; the assortment of dishes and combinations are almost limitless. The meals are full of robust, earthy flavours and, like most Mediterranean countries, much of what the Lebanese eat is dictated by the seasons.

There are two types of bread, the flat pitta pocket found everywhere in the Middle East, and marcook – a thin bread baked on a domed dish over a fire.

Food overlaps greatly with those of Syria, the Palestinian Territories, Egypt, Greece and Turkey (all were Ottoman provinces for 400 years.)

Popular Lebanese dishes are:

baba ghanoush: char-grilled eggplant, tahina, olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic puree – served as a dip;
baklava: a dessert of layered pastry filled with nuts and steeped in honey-lemon syrup, usually cut in a triangular or diamond shape;
falafel: small deep-fried patties made of highly-spiced ground chick-peas;
fattoush: salad of toasted croutons, cucumbers, tomatoes and mint;
foul: slow cooked mask of brown beans and red lentils dressed with lemon olive oil and cumin;
halva: sesame paste sweet, usually made in a slab and studded with fruit and nuts;
hommus: puree of chickpeas, tahina, lemon, and garlic served as a dip;
jebne: white cheese;
kamareddin: apricot nectar;
kunafi: shoelace pastry dessert stuffed with sweet white cheese, nuts and syrup;
kibbeh: oval-shaped nuggets of ground lamb and burghul;
kibbeh naye: raw kibbeh eaten like steak tartar;
koshary: cooked dish of pasta, rice and lentils to which onions, chillies and tomatoes paste are added;
kufta: fingers, balls or a flat cake of minced meat and spices that can be baked or charcoal-grilled on skewers;
laban: tangy-tasting sour milk drink widely used in cooking;
labenah: thick creamy cheese often spiced and used as a dip;
lahma bi ajeen: Arabic pizza;
loubia: green beans cooked in tomato sauce;
ma'amul: date cookies shaped in a wooden mould called a tabi;
muhalabiyyah: silky textured semolina pudding served cold;
musakhan: chicken casserole with sumac, a ground powder from the cashew family used as seasoning;
sayyadiya: delicately spiced fish served on a bed of rice.


The coffee served in Lebanon is sometimes a variation of Turkish coffee, but a dark type of coffee is the main type served. Coffee is served throughout the day, at home and in the public cafes. Lebanese coffee is strong, thick and often flavoured with cardamom. It is also usually unsweetened and bitter. When guests arrive at one's home, they are invariably persuaded to stay for a coffee, no matter how short their visit. It is made with a long-handled coffee pot called rakwe, served in a demitasse, and poured out in front of the guest from the rakwe itself.

Wine is growing in popularity and a number of vineyards currently exist in the Bekaa valley and elsewhere. Beer is also highly popular and Lebanon produces a number of local beers, of which Almaza is perhaps the most popular.





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