Articles & Recipes
  Middle Eastern Cuisines

The Middle East encompasses the birthplace of civilization and it's history goes back as far as 3,500 BC with a pre-history dating back to 10,000 BC. The contributions to world knowledge (including culinary arts) cannot be disputed.

        From a culinary standpoint, the region can be divided into number of areas. Greek, Turkish and Persian cooking make up one unit, Arabic cooking another. Israel teems with recipes brought in by dozens of immigrant groups, as well as producing original recipes never cooked anywhere before.

Origins: Similarities & Diversities

        When talking about Middle Eastern food, one always inquires as to which dish originated in which particular country. History can solve this in part, however, there has been so much interchange of culture through colonization, migration, invasion and counter-invasion, that even this presents its difficulties. So many similar recipes turn up in the culinary repertoire of a number of countries that to detect the source of many of them is virtually impossible. For example, there are dolmas - stuffed vegetables - with variations in both name and ingredients stretching from Greece to Afghanistan and south to the Arabian Gulf States. Therefore, because of such widespread similarities, it is not clear which peoples developed what food or recipe.

Evolving Over Thousands of Years

        Its exotic dishes make up a cuisine that indeed has been evolving over thousands of years. The result is food that is at once homogeneous and diverse, lavish and thrifty, plain and imaginatively seasoned. There can be no single characteristic; however, in all nations, lamb is the basic meat, wheat bread a basic source of carbohydrate; eggplant is a favorite vegetable, and yogurt the preferred form of dairy. These similarities of cuisine have persisted for centuries despite vast geographical, cultural and political differences.

        Middle Eastern cooks have taken advantage of their surroundings in innovative ways, using a combination of familiar and unique herbs, spices, dried and fresh fruits, nuts and sauces.

The Honored Guest

        Characteristic of all cooking is the importance placed on dining and entertaining. Eating is more than an activity, it is a social function. The phrase, "a guest is a gift from God" truly represents Middle Eastern hospitality. No matter how rich or poor, the guest receives an honored place at the table.

The Elegant Chef
Middle East Cuisines
  Grape Leaves
  Turkish Garbanzo Soup

Writings on Food
Articles & Recipes: An Introduction
The Versatile Orange
Tapas: A Spanish Tradition
Rustic French Home Cooking
Persian Cooking
Middle Eastern Cuisines
The Food of North Africa
Home: Introducing The Elegant Chef
To the Top