Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Lebanese food is one of the best in the world. It’s fresh and famous for its great variety.
No need to convince Lebanese people, but there are many people that I’ve met who don’t know much about the little country, yet they sure know about the food.
Actually, when a person starts eating this food, especially for the first time, the expression on their face speaks louder than words:
What type of food is it?
The food in Lebanon is very Mediterranean, so again very fresh and its oriental influences appear in many dishes also.
Starter: You’ll find salads (tabbouleh, fattouch), dips (hummus, baba ghanouj) with bread, pickled veggies, labne (homemade spread cheese) and other mezzas.
Main dish: Meat, usually lamb, chicken or beef that comes in all possible forms cooked on barbecue or in the oven. The meat is cooked with all sorts such as rice, potatoes, vegetables and so on, depending on the type of dish.
The food is often flavoured with olive oil, garlic, lemon, as well as some herbs and spices.
Desert: Often served with tea or coffee, the pastries in Lebanon are to die for. You’ll find different sorts, from the typical filo patries full of syrup and crushed nuts, to more creamier ones made with ashta (sort of clotted cream), or some more solid ones with dates, the list is long.
Lebanon has it’s “everyday” food, but it also has many dishes or desserts that are typical and specific to certain celebrations such as: religious holidays, birth of a new child, weddings, etc.
The relationship between Lebanese food and its people
Now you can’t talk about Lebanese food without saying how very generous it is, because the warmth and hospitality of the people there is widely represented through their food. What I mean is that you get served proper amounts and calories are coming to the party too.
This is something I always get told by my Lebanese friends:
Aaah you’re going to Lebanon? Good, Good, hahaha… I hope you’re ready to put 5Kg on! 😊
Yep, the combination of irresistible, generous and caloric food will add a bit onto your weight depending how long your stay is. But it’s not like eating in a fast food, at least you are eating wholesome food.
Now, if you are eating in a Lebanese household, this is what you’ll witness/go through:
Food is a very prominent part of their life and sharing it is the biggest and best part of it!
There’s always a variety of dishes and you should taste all of it. Do note that they will never understand that you “don’t have the space” in your stomach, to at least try “a bit” of the delicious food they’ve just made with love.
A few typical Lebanese foods:
- Lebanese bread – It’s a basic in every meal and the way it’s made is proper to Lebanon.
- Taboulleh (parsley, tomatoes, mint, bulgur, onions, lemon, olive oil)
- Hummus – The famous, dip made with chickpeas ; Baba Ghanouj – made from eggplant
- Kefta meat ; Shawarma
- Kebbe ; Falafel
- Vine leaves – marinated rice rolled in vine leaves.
Is Lebanese food spicy?
By spicy I mean “hot”, because otherwise Lebanese food has spices for sure, but many of them are not hot.
So, it can definitely be spiced up, but it doesn’t have to be. You usually get to choose whether you want it added into your food or not.
The usual spices used: You’ll always hear of the 7 spices mix (black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, fenugreek), which is used in almost every cooked dish. Then you’ll find other kinds of flavorings like Za’atar (thyme & sesame), cardamom, sumac, dried mint, sage, etc.
The hot spices: nothing too extravagant, they will use black and red pepper to warm you up!
Sahten, what is this Lebanese word?
صحتين = Sa7ten, pronounced Sahten, is a word you’ll hear after every meal in Lebanon.
It is the equivalent of “have a good meal” – “enjoy your meal”, or as the French would say: “Bon appétit”.
But there is a slight difference, the former you’ll say before you start the meal, whereas Sahten will be said at the end of the meal.
This is because it means “twice your health”, so it’s a way of wishing that this meal you’ve just eaten brings you good health and as we’ve said before the Lebanese are generous, so they double up the wish for you!
The term “3a albak” (pronounced Aa albak), is what you should answer back. This means “twice on your heart“, proving how generously thankful you are…
Keep your eyes open for upcoming articles and recipes on Lebanese food and leave a comment below for any suggestions. xx