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Syrian, Lebanese, Mid-Eastern foods

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
There's a new Syrian restaurant opening in STL......does anyone know the differences in various mid- eastern countries' food?

kibbee, raw & fried
shwarma
meze tables
ashta
baklava
Shrimp
breads?.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #2 of 9
There is more overlap than not in my opinion. And I think most distinctions are lost when the cuisine makes it to the US away from the native herbs that would have tilted their tastes back in the original countries.

There is some north to south differentiation I think. The fava and chickpea increase use as you go south and the bread becomes flatter and more sour. The sweet spices also tend to increase as you move south, mostly how they use cinnamon.

East to West, particularly as you move away from the sea, the food changes more I think.

My niece did archeological fieldwork in Jordan last summer. Lots and lots of goat meat. She is very tired of eating goat, even now. Excellent hummus and bread.
post #3 of 9
being part lebanese i can say that there food is the best;). but really it is good. look for tabouleh its a fresh salad with cucumbers cracked wheat onions and lemon juice. and of course stuffed grape leaves. zaatar is a delicios toasted flat bread with oil spices and sesame seeds. my mouth is watering. ill be posting some good mid east recipies thanks to you :p.
post #4 of 9
Lebanese flatbread is my preferred flatbread. :D
post #5 of 9
One of my daughters lived and worked in Lebanon and Syria, but is now home in the UK. She loves the foods of the area - and cooks many of the dishes. There are as many similarities as there are differences. Some of the dishes could equally be from Turkey or Lebanon or (and whisper it softly) Israel!
post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Guess my question was too open......this was somewhat answered by others as Americanized mid-eastern restaurant food is bastardized so that it's fairly similar across the board.

We've discussed different cuisines from that area years ago on CT, but it's still alittle vague....anyone interested in going more indepth?
Eqyptian
Syria
Lebanese
Israel
Turkey
Greece....does it count
Jordanian

spice variances, meats.....goat is popular what about sheep, breads, fillo, fruits, salads, olives, marinades.....
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #7 of 9
It's a really good question. I think we've been unfair in characterizing Middle Eastern food as all the same... which it is not. I just don't know much about the region. We do the same thing to some extent with Chinese and Indian food. At least with Indian food people know the difference between South and North.
post #8 of 9
Being that "Middle Eastern" food is my most favorite cuisine, it would be hard to characterize it anymore than trying to characterize "American" cuisine. Just think how American food differs from East to MidWestern to West, from North to South, from Southeast to Southwest. Pop or Soda? Stuff like that. Sometimes the same thing with different names. Sometimes the same name, but really different in composition and taste.

From my experiences, Lebanese food is the most tasty. I've not been overseas, but in the Twin Cities, a lot of ME restaurants open up. I've been to Egyptian, Lebanese, Turkish, Kurdish, and some I can't remember the names of the region they were from.

Many of them start off authentic and very representative, and as a former food critic, I got to know a lot of ME chefs/owners. TO a one, they all started out with great expectations, and then quickly found that, in their own words, Americans can't tell the difference. SO they stop trying to impress, and just sell. 3-day old Tabouli, it sells. I won't eat it, but then Majdi, co-owner of Holyland Deli and Grocery, told me once "There's only a handful of people in the world that understand this cuisine like my brother Wadi, and yet, much to my amazement, you, an American, are one of those people!!"

Needless to say, I was totally honored to be classified in that rarefied handful of people.

Anyway, one time I was in a vegetarian ME restaurant, and the waitress comes out wide-eyed, and says, "Your meal will be ready in a little bit. He's in THERE making up everything fresh just for you!!". She said he's never done that before.

doc
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
How Cooool is that? He probably loves making it for you. I know that it's more enjoyable for me to cook for discriminating eaters, they recognize the differences....they notice the extra touches.....most know what goes into preparing the food.

The priest I cook for does not dwell in foodland, he appreciates good food but doesn't know why it's good (nor really wants to know)....he loves fresh breads, crustier the better. The handyman that eats lunch at the rectory has a picky palate and prefers canned nacho cheese and chips over seafood/fish etc.....He'd much rather have a frozen pizza or hotdog. He's a sweetheart and I stock up his favorite rootbeer, nachos and cheese.....but I could care less about whether he'd wanna try the oyster stew.
Every other worker has their favorites, but essentially I'm cooking for the priest.

This past week I was goofying around with Kafti, typically I've seen it in Lebanese restaurants or shops with honey syrup in mounds or in nests with nuts usually pistachios.

Kibbee is a good one.....I've had football shaped meat or veg filled fried kibbee, raw kibbee.....Lebanese restaurants, trying to remember if they were at Syrian places...

Apparently Israel has a huge foie gras exporting business....falafel is big there.

I'm thinking falafel is fairly big throughout the region.
What about shwarma.....there is nothing like a great chicken shwarma.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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