Middle Eastern Food

Written by Sarah Bednar
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Middle Eastern food is a part of the rich history and culture of the region. In many instances, the foods that make up the Arab diet are still prepared in the same ways that they were when nomads roamed the deserts. The simplicity of such cooking allows Arab peoples to always be able to prepare their meals, no matter where they are. Beans, rice, fruits and goat or sheep meat make up the bulk of a diet meant to sustain life through harsh conditions.

Common Examples of Middle Eastern Food

Turkey, Greece, Persia and the Arab countries comprise most of the areas that share the traditions of Middle Eastern food. Each country has its own variations on certain dishes. In Turkey, for example, the skewering of meat and vegetables is called a kebap, and often served with rice. Arabs have this dish and call it a kebob, using lamb as the main ingredient. In Greece, lamb is widely used in a variety of dishes such as fricassee, a stew made with spinach and lemon.

Food from around the world often shows the influence of Middle Eastern cuisine. Turkish contributions include yogurt, stuffed vegetables and filo desserts. The Arab meat kebob and pita bread are now part of Western diets. Middle Eastern spices add zest to the recipes found in Western restaurants. Coriander, cardamom and sumac (of the cashew family) are used to give spicy flavor to dishes. Import stores outside the Middle East offer foods that allow those unfamiliar with Arab cuisine an authentic taste of their culture.

Middle Eastern food has a history that goes back to ancient times, when local foods and animals gave the nomads all they needed to survive. Today, locally grown fruits, vegetables, grains, beans and nuts are still providing people of the Middle East and the world with delicious and nutritious meals that evoke the heritage of the desert peoples. A trip to the Middle East would not be complete without an exploration of the land's many exotic dishes.

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