Typical Dish

Beirut, Lebanon

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Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, located on the Mediterranean coast in the Middle East. It has a population of around 2.2 million people, making it one of the most densely populated cities in the world. Despite its tumultuous history of conflict and political instability, Beirut is a vibrant city with a rich culinary culture that draws from its diverse history and geography.

Lebanese cuisine is a fusion of Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and European influences, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients and bold, aromatic spices. Beirut is famous for its mezze, a selection of small plates that are typically served as an appetizer or shared meal. Some popular mezze dishes include hummus, a dip made from chickpeas, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice; baba ghanoush, a dip made from roasted eggplant, tahini, garlic, and lemon juice; tabbouleh, a salad made from parsley, tomatoes, onion, and bulgur wheat; and fattoush, a salad made from lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, and crispy pita bread.

Another popular mezze dish is kibbeh, which is made from ground meat (usually lamb or beef), bulgur wheat, and spices, and is typically served fried or baked. Other meat dishes commonly found in Beirut include shawarma, a Middle Eastern version of the kebab that is made from marinated meat (usually chicken or beef) that is shaved off a rotating spit and served in a pita with vegetables and sauce; and kafta, a type of meatball made from ground lamb or beef, parsley, onion, and spices.

Seafood is also a staple of Lebanese cuisine, and Beirut's proximity to the Mediterranean ensures that fresh fish and shellfish are readily available. Some popular seafood dishes include grilled or fried fish, shrimp or squid, served with garlic, lemon, and olive oil; and sayadiyah, a rice dish made with fish, onion, and spices.

In addition to its savory dishes, Beirut is also known for its sweet treats. One of the most famous desserts in Beirut is baklava, a pastry made from layers of phyllo dough, chopped nuts, and honey or syrup. Other popular sweets include maamoul, a cookie made from semolina flour, filled with dates or nuts; and knefeh, a sweet pastry made from shredded phyllo dough, cheese, and sugar syrup.

When it comes to drinks, Beirut offers a wide range of options. Coffee is an important part of daily life in Beirut, and the city is home to many traditional coffeehouses where people gather to drink strong, sweet Arabic coffee and socialize. Tea is also popular, particularly mint tea, which is often served with sugar and a sprig of fresh mint.

Lebanon is known for its wine production, and Beirut has a thriving wine culture. Some of the most popular grape varieties in Lebanon include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah, and many wineries offer tastings and tours. Arak, a traditional anise-flavored spirit, is also popular in Beirut and is often mixed with water to create a refreshing drink.

In terms of dining habits, Beirutis typically eat three meals a day, with lunch being the largest and most important meal of the day. Mezze dishes are often served as a prelude to the main course, and many restaurants offer a set menu that includes a variety of small plates followed by a meat or seafood dish. Dinner is usually a lighter meal, and many Beirutis prefer to dine out or order takeaway in the evening.