Lebanese Cuisine

History

The Lebanese cuisine is an ancient one and part of the Levantine cuisine. Many dishes in the Lebanese cuisine can be traced back thousands of years to eras of Roman and Phoenician rule.

More recently, Lebanese cuisine was influenced by the different foreign civilizations that held power.

From 1516 to 1918, the Ottoman Turks controlled Lebanon and introduced a variety of foods that have become staples in the Lebanese diet, such as cooking with lamb.

After the Ottomans were defeated in World War I (1914–1918), France took control of Lebanon until 1943, when the country achieved its independence. The French introduced foods such as flan, a caramel custard dessert dating back to the 16th century AD, and croissants

Overview

Most often foods are grilled, baked or sautéed in olive oil; butter or cream is rarely used other than in a few desserts. Vegetables are often eaten raw, pickled, or cooked. Herbs and spices are used frequently and in large quantities. Like most Mediterranean countries, much of what the Lebanese eat is dictated by the seasons and what is available. Lebanese cuisine also varies by region.

In Lebanon, very rarely are drinks served without being accompanied by food. Similar to the tapas of Spain, mezeluri of Romania and aperitivo of Italy, mezze is an array of small dishes placed before the guests creating an array of colors, flavors, textures and aromas. This style of serving food is less a part of family life than it is of entertaining and cafés. Mezze may be as simple as raw or pickled vegetables, hummus, baba ghanouj and bread, or it may become an entire meal consisting of grilled marinated seafood, skewered meats, a variety of cooked and raw salads and an arrangement of desserts.

Although simple fresh fruits are often served towards the end of a Lebanese meal, there is also dessert, such as baklava and coffee. Although baklava is the most internationally known dessert, there is a great variety of Lebanese desserts.

A typical mezze will consist of an elaborate variety of thirty hot and cold dishes and may include:

▪ Salads such as tabbouleh and fattoush, together with dip such as hummus, baba ghanoush or moutabal, and kebbeh.

▪ Some patties such as the Sambusac.

Stuffed grape leaves

Family cuisine offers also a range of dishes, such as stews (or yakhneh), which can be cooked in many forms depending on the ingredients used and are usually served with meat and rice vermicelli.

Lebanese flat bread, called pita, is a staple to every Lebanese meal and can be used in place of a fork.

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