Lebanon is a country whose aromas and flavours will linger long in your memory. Its cuisine fuses the best of Mediterranean food with the most attractive aspects of the Arab diet. So what you find in Lebanon is a healthy cuisine rich in flavours that will feel both familiar and at the same time new and refreshing.
Many of the traditional dishes you'll find in Lebanon are based on olive oil, sesame, legumes, cereals, vegetables and fruit. It is a rich and fertile country, but the ingredients of Lebanese food are not infinite. However, the way they are prepared makes each dish absolutely unique.
Some of the most typical produce you must try not to miss are aubergines, cheeses and yogurts. But don't expect the flavours to be the same as the ones you're familiar with.
One of the good things about Lebanese cuisine is that there are options for omnivores, vegetarians and even vegans. Unlike other countries, Lebanon offers a wide variety of vegan-friendly dishes, so you won't have to always order the same thing. And confirmed carnivores will enjoy rich meat, fish and shellfish dishes.
When you're in this wonderful country and thinking for the first time about what to eat in Lebanon, you'll see that most restaurant menus include the word mezze or mezza. Rather than being a typical dish, it's a small appetiser that's served as a starter. It consists of several different dishes and is usually shared.
The Lebanese are used to going out to bars and eating mezze, but they also do it at home. A little bit like the tapas that are eaten in Spain.
The Lebanese dishes comprising mezze usually include chickpea hummus, cheeses, fried foods, salads, olives and bread.
If you are in Lebanon and you order several dishes to eat, traditional restaurants will serve them with spring onions, mint, tomatoes, olives and pita bread. This is usually included in the price and is the real Lebanese mezze.
Hummus is a paste with the consistency of pâté that is made with chickpeas, olive oil, seeds and lemon juice. It is usually eaten with pita bread and in Lebanon also with nuts such as cashews.
It may remind you of hummus the first time you see it, but labneh is made with thick strained yogurt and olive oil. Its remarkable taste varies depending on whether it's made from sheep's, cow's or goat's milk.
This salad, whose origin is disputed between Lebanon and Syria, contains mint and parsley leaves, wheat and olive oil.
It is usually part of the mezze, accompanied by pita bread, chopped onion, lemon and cucumber. Just mentioning the ingredients makes it clear that it's a very refreshing dish.
Aubergines are the basis of many of the dishes you eat in Lebanon. When fried, they're called bathenjan makli. They can be fried with honey and accompanied by lettuce, fresh tomato, parsley or other types of sauces.
Baba ganoush is an aubergine purée that is eaten with pita bread.
This is a typical dinner and breakfast dish that also falls into the category of traditional Lebanese mezze. It's made from bread of varying degrees of freshness. To conceal the flavour of the stale bread, it is spread in a spicy sauce with olive oil, yogurt, cumin, pine nuts and chickpeas. A real treat.
This salad rests on a base of fried and cooled pita bread on which garlic, onion, radish, lettuce, cucumber and tomato are placed.
Manakish is a bread whose dough looks a lot like that of pizza. It's very thin and seasoned with olive oil and za'tar sauce, made of sumac, thyme and sesame seeds. This bread can be found in all Lebanese bakeries and its price makes it really affordable.
When you see this chicken dish it may remind you of typical croquettes. The chicken is coated with bulgar wheat and there is a vegetarian version that instead of chicken has potato, tomato and pumpkin.
It's amazing with yogurt or hummus.
Shawarma is one of the most typical Middle Eastern dishes. This is meat that turns as it cooks on a spit and in Lebanon may be made of chicken, lamb, beef or a mixture of these.
For every meat dish, there's a vegetarian one to eat in Lebanon, and in this case we're referring to fried cauliflower. It's usually accompanied by a salad and can also be eaten in a sandwich.
Whereas kofta is minced meat that comes in the form of a meatball or hamburger, falafel is made with chickpeas or beans spiced with cumin. Kofta is served with pita bread and potatoes and falafel with vegetables and yoghurt sauce.
This biscuit filled with nuts and fruit is the star of many Lebanese parties and celebrations. It is usually round or shaped like a pyramid.
These delicacies from Turkey are made with almonds, honey and puff pastry. They have become very popular in Lebanon and throughout the Mediterranean in general.