Food of the Middle East
eastern cuisine is a broad term that encompasses a range of cooking styles from
a number of different countries. Arabian, Syrian, Moroccan, Greek -- the various
cuisines of the middle east share a great deal -- and have many differences.
food of the Middle East is a celebration of life. No matter the country, the staples
are fresh fruits and vegetables that grow in the hills. The spices and flavors
of Middle Eastern food awaken the senses, sparkling against the thicker, richer
tastes of the main ingredients. Mints, lemon, garlic, rosemary -- all have a fresh,
astringent, refreshing quality. Throughout the region, the cuisine varies, but
these things remain the same: fresh ingredients, astringent and piquant spices,
olive oil, and only a little meat.
If Syria had contributed nothing else to world cuisine but pita bread and hummus,
it would still be worthy of note. But there's far more to the cuisine of this
small Middle Eastern country, though. Baba ganoush (pureed eggplant), stuffed
olives and figs, peppers in olive oil -- Syrian food celebrates the fruits of
the earth and blends them to bring out the textures and flavors in surprising
ways. Shish kebab and rice pilaf are two of the more well-known dishes, and while
most people think of Greece when they hear baklava, Syrians claim it is based
on their own dessert of batwala.
The tiny country -- about the size of Connecticut -- is nestled into the shores
of the Mediterranean Sea at the very crook of the fertile crescent of old. Its
contributions to the cuisine of the entire Middle Eastern region of the world
are unmistakable. The flavors that spice the foods of all the surrounding lands
can be found here in abundance -- olive oil, lemon, garlic, and mint. Lebanese
cuisine features such staples as kibbeh (ground lamb with bulghur wheat) and tabouleh
(parsley, mint and bulghur wheat salad). The food is simply prepared, with the
flavors blending together into a complex medley of earthy, fruity tastes and scents.
The Bedouin people of the desert once based their diets on dates and yoghurt with
the occasional camel or goat to provide meat. Over the centuries, the nomadic
tribes fused spices, meats, and vegetables from other cultures into their cuisine.
Today's Arabian cuisine is a mingling of influences from India, Lebanon, and nations
further west. Lamb is the meat most often used in cooking, prepared in a number
of ways including shish kebab, spit-roasted, or stewed. The cuisine relies heavily
on mint, turmeric, saffron, garlic, and sesame. Rice and kasha are the most frequently
consumed grains, and the spicing is fresh and astringent.
the Mediterranean Middle East, the cultures and people have intermingled and carried
with them their foods and traditions of eating. No other place in the world is
there such a blending of cultures that has mingled so much, yet maintained their
distinct, national flavors. Healthy, fresh, and delicious, it's little wonder
that the cuisine of the Middle East is so popular with diners all over the world.
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