Before answering this question, it is interesting to take a moment and reflect on the conditions that crafted Lebanese food into what it has become today. The country has been ruled, over the last six millennia, by the most important civilizations of the world. Phoenician, Persian, Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and French are only a few of the empires that played an influential role in the evolution of Lebanese cuisine. Each of these cultures brought some new flavors to the kitchen that the people of Lebanon adopted over the years. Thankfully for us, they also decided to share their culinary findings.

Aside from its delicious, flavorful taste, Lebanese food aligns with the healthy eating standards of this millennium. It uses mostly fresh ingredients, generally grown locally. A habit that is both nutritious and environmentally friendly. After all, who does not enjoy their food when it is less traveled? The food is usually baked or grilled as opposed to fried, which is so much better for us. A Lebanese menu contains minimal red meat or dairy products, which aligns with current vegetarian and vegan trends. Poultry, seafood, fresh vegetables, and fish are preferred. The food is enhanced with a wide variety of herbs and spices such as mint and parsley. You will not find much butter or other saturated fats in Lebanese cuisine, chefs prefer cooking with vegetable and olive oil, which are better for our health.

Did you know that Lebanese food is the most popular cuisine from the Middle East? The fresh bread and baklava are known worldwide and appreciated even by the pickiest of palates. I can remember enjoying a baklava and coffee as an afternoon snack with one of my best friends. Although it was over ten years ago, the experience was memorable. And who can resist a bowl of tabbouleh? The delightful taste of the carefully selected ingredients, mixed together, served on pita bread or in a salad can fulfill most hunger.

Through their travels over the centuries and the invasions of their country by several powerful nations, the Lebanese have collected an interesting array of spices and herbs that they have added to their food to make it the unique, tasteful, and healthy cuisine we have come to enjoy today. The combination of sharing and trading of ingredients has made their food remarkable. When you think of Lebanese food, your mouth waters at the thought of cinnamon, nutmeg, oregano or allspice. The Lebanese have magnificently combined these favors into delicious meals we should feel lucky to enjoy in our neck of the woods.

If you are not an expert in the kitchen or the most talented of a cook but can’t resist the smell and flavor of well-prepared Lebanese dishes, do not disappoint your taste buds. Visit your local Lebanese restaurant and let the expert spoil you. Discover traditional, family restaurants that will share with you the delicious recipes of their ancestors. In most visits, you will experience a cultural adventure as well as a dining one.

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Mark is the Editor-in-Chief of So Good Blog.

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