10 Jan The History That Makes Lebanese Food Stand Out
Lebanon has had one of the most fascinating and diverse culinary histories of any nation on earth, and these influences touch every dish found at a traditional Lebanese restaurant.
From its ancient roots as part of the birthplace of civilisation to the centuries on various different powers, many countries have shaped Lebanese cuisine and that in turn has caused Lebanon’s incredible food culture to shape the world in recent years.
In ancient history, Lebanon has been part of many different ancient civilisations, including but not limited to Ancient Egypt, Neo-Babylon, Phoenicia, the Byzantine Empire, Persia, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, each of which has affected Lebanese cuisine.
Probably the biggest and most overt influence was more recent when the Ottoman Empire originating from Turkey and took over Lebanon as well as large parts of North-East Africa and the Middle East from 1516 until the end of the First World War in 1918.
During this 400 year period, many foods brought into the country have become staple parts of a Lebanese diet, in particular the use of lamb in dishes such as shwarma, but also olive oil, stuffed vegetables, dark coffee and baklava.
This influence, combined with the grains and recipes found in Lebanese history created an amazing array of fusion recipes, but this would become wholly different when the Ottoman Empire would end up collapsing from 1908 until 1922.
After the war, France would take control of Lebanon until the country declared its independence in 1943, but during that time french cuisine would have a considerable impact.
Baklawa would be eaten alongside elegant French pastries, croissants and flan, which would in turn influence in subtle ways Lebanese sweets that have existed since antiquity.