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Middle Eastern cuisine While some dishes like hommus, shish kabob, and baklava are well known to Americans and common across the Arab world, the foods of the region are special in their particular mix of spices and textures. Many traditional dishes are simple preparations of grains, vegetables and fruits. Yogurt, cheese, cucumbers, eggplant, chick peas, nuts, tomatoes, bulger, and sesame (seeds, paste and oil) are creatively combined. Parsley and mint are used liberally as are lemons, onions, garlic and olive oil. Pita bread is served for dipping. Syrian/Lebanese culinary contributions have had a dramatic influence on modern Arab cuisine. The typical meal A meal is a social occasion, with friends and family gathering to partake in good food and lively conversation. An array of appetizers is generally followed by a meat dish (often lamb), proceeded by salad and rice. A hot drink of strong coffee or tea and a delicious pastry is the finishing touch to a meal. About this part of the world Syria and Lebanon are located in the Fertile Crescent, a region of arable land extending from what was once known as Mesopotamia to Egypt. Farming dates back 10,000 years. Over the centuries, Assyrian, Egyptian, Hittite, Greek, Roman and Byzantine cultures have assimilated into the societies in one form or another, mainly as a result of conquests by invading forces. As such, their food is imprinted with the region’s rich history, exhibiting strong European and Arab influences. The Mediterranean Diet A typical Mediterranean diet is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, olive oil, nuts, beans, and lean meats such as lamb. In recent years, there has been a growing awareness of the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, including reduced incidence of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
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