Food Traditions of the Middle East

16 Aug 2015

When step into the Middle East, the first thing that catches you eye

is the dichotomy of old and new cultures. It has influences from its

own ancient traditions and has also adopted a few from its European

invaders. Across the Middle East you will experience different

cultures and cuisine. There are as many similarities as there are

differences from country to country in the region. Cuisine in the

Middle East is diverse and changes depending on the country. Some

dishes are specific to one region, and flavoring techniques may change

from country to country.

 

Typically, Middle Eastern food is flavorful and aromatic, and uses

spices such as cumin, nutmeg, turmeric and caraway to achieve strong

flavors that are unique to the cooking of the region.Similarities

exist, however, and some dishes are popular throughout much of the

Middle East. Olives and chickpeas are frequently used in cooking, and

flat breads such as pita are popular. Since most countries in the

Middle East are primarily Islamic, certain dietary rules are observed.

Alcohol is prohibited in many countries, as are pork products.

Chicken, beef and lamb are popular protein choices, and chunks of

these meats are sometimes skewered with vegetables and cooked as

kebabs. Yogurt and cheeses are specially made and used in cooking.

Soups and side dishes made with lentils, beans, peppers or other

vegetables are often served with a main course.Researched sources also

claim that the area was also influenced by dumplings from Mongol

invaders; turmeric, cumin, garlic and other spices from India; cloves,

peppercorns and allspice from the Spice Islands; okra from Africa; and

tomatoes from the New World, via the Moors of Spain. Religion has also

had an impact on the cuisine; neither Jews nor Muslims eat pork,

making lamb the primary meat.

 

During the month of Ramadan, food consumption increases dramatically

throughout Muslim communities. Breaking the fast becomes a banquet,

with exchanges of invitations between kin and friends, and public

banquets held by charities and associations. Cafes and pastry shops

are open at night, and a carnival atmosphere prevails in the streets.

Food is a defining factor of every region and Middle Eastern cuisine

has become famous across the world. It is easy today to savour this

cuisine in any part of the world.Food also helps us connect with the

local culture better and is generally used as medium to bond with the

local people and connect with their culture.

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