Lebanon sits on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea near Syria and Israel. Though is it a relatively small country, its impact on food and culture is widespread. Festivals and Restaurants around the world are dedicated to celebrating the beauty of Lebanese cuisine.
But have you ever wondered how Lebanese food developed into the flavourful art we enjoy today?
Multiple influences shape the cuisines of all regions. For example, Japan is a group of mountainous islands, so their food is centred on fresh seafood and rice. The food of the United States, however, is extremely assorted due to its immigrated history and diverse landscape. The food of Lebanon has been shaped over thousands of years by religion, wars, and nature.
Lebanon is home to two main religions: Christianity and Islam. Each religion is rich with festivals and holidays. Ramadan is observed during the entire ninth month of the Islamic calendar. This is a time of fasting between sunrise and sunset. Light breakfasts of oiled bread, fresh fruit, and tea is common during this time. After the sun sets, great feasts are shared with family and friends. At the end of Ramadan, huge festivals are held and sheep are traditionally slaughtered and shared. Christmas and Easter are the most celebrated holidays for Christianity. The foods for these festivities often include lamb and decadent desserts. The influence of the French can bee found in a lot of the desserts made for these holidays.
Influence of foreign powers
Ottoman-Turks controlled the Lebanese territory for roughly four centuries, from 1516-1918. They introduced many foods that are now staples of Lebanese cuisine such as olive oil, Baklava (a sweet pastry) and Laban (yogurt). At the end of the First World War, France took over control of Lebanon from the early 1920’s to 1946, when Lebanon declared their independence. The French introduced a number of their delicacies such as flan. Travellers have also contributed to the Lebanese diet by bringing foreign fruits and nuts to their land.
Topography of the land
The landscape of Lebanon is a mix between mountains, plains, and the Mediterranean seashore. The mountains span across the entire country along the coast. These mountains are home to the great forests for which Lebanon is known. These mountains are also home to a lot of Lebanon’s livestock. Goats and sheep have been the main livestock for centuries, but bovines have since grown in popularity. The valleys are fertile and are good for growing fruits and vegetables. And though Lebanon shores the Mediterranean Sea and is striped by rivers, fish play a minor role in their agriculture.
Over all, Lebanese food is both rich in flavour and history. The tastes are a subtle blend the delicacy of the French, the resourcefulness of the Ottoman-Turks, and the essence of the Mediterranean.