Middle Eastern Cuisine
by Kirsten Hawkins
‘Middle eastern cuisine’ is a broad term that encompasses many
different cooking styles from a number of different countries.
Moroccan, Syrian, Greek, Arabian the various cuisines of the
middle east share a great deal and have many differences.
The food of the Middle East is a celebration of life. No matter
which country, the staples are the fresh fruits and vegetables
that grow in the hills. The spices and flavorings of Middle
Eastern food are those that awaken the senses, sparkling
against the thicker, richer tastes of the main ingredients.
Mints, lemon, garlic, rosemary all have a fresh, astringent
quality that cleanses the palate and refreshes the taste buds.
Throughout the region, the cuisine varies but these things
remain the same: fresh ingredients, astringent and piquant
spices, olive oil, and little meat.
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. 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.
If Syria had contributed nothing else to the world cuisine but
pita bread and hummus, it would still be worthy of note.
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, the Syrian claim that it is
based on their own dessert of batwala.
The Bedouin 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 incorporated spices, meats and
vegetables from other cultures into their cuisine. Today’s
Arabian cuisine is a mingling of influences from India, Lebanon
and further west. Lamb is the meat most often used in cooking,
and it is 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 commonly consumed grains, and the spicing is fresh and
astringent meant to awaken and refresh the palate rather than
burn it out.
Throughout the Mediterranean Middle East, the cultures and
people have intermingled and carried with them their foods and
traditions of eating. In no other place in the world can there
be found a blending of cultures that has mingled so much yet
maintained such distinct, national flavors. Healthful, fresh,
delicious and life-enhancing, it’s little wonder that the
cuisine of the Middle East is among the most popular with
diners the world over.
About The Author: Kirsten Hawkins is a food and nutrition
expert specializing the Mexican, Chinese, and Italian food.
Visit http://www.food-and-nutrition.com/ for more information
on cooking delicious and healthy meals.