There are two things that everyone agrees on regarding the Lebanese, and that is our hospitality and the excellence of our cuisine. Quick snacks are every bit as tasty and healthy as elaborate meals, which can last beyond four hours as we enjoy it to the full. These 20 icons are just a little sample of common food.


Since many of the names are just not translatable, I decided it was simpler to keep all the names in Lebanese.

Tfaddalo! is an invitation to come to the table, as the food is ready.

Ahweh turkeh: Turkish coffee, served in tiny cups at the end of the meal (tiny because that's all a normal stomach can handle).

Ashta: A delicious scaly fruit that tastes something like a cross between honey and an orange.

Coktél ma3 ashta: Despite the spelling, the word is "cocktail", but in the populous neighborhoods it designates our equivalent of the (non-alcoholic) smoothie -- served with an abundance of pieces of fruit, almonds, raisins, and in this case topped with ashta, a kind of cream. I spelled it this way because if it was pronounced correctly it would designate the acual alcoholic cocktail...

Fatayer: Most often stuffed with a spinach mix.

Festo' 7alabe: fresh unopened pistacchios, a summer treat!

Hommos: Chick pea purée, now very popular in the Western world although we make it with much more lemon.

Kebbeh: Ground meat and wheat shaped into these lemon-shaped balls that can be stuffed with rice.

Khebz 3arabe: "Arabic bread", as opposed to French bread which we consume a lot. Contrary to popular belief, this is not pita. It is less chewy and good enough to eat alone.

La7me b3ajeen: "Meat on dough", served with laban (a thinner yogurt).

Labneh: a thicker yogurt that has been a staple of the local diet for longer than the Arabic language existed, since its name comes from a very old root.

Labneh bil-zeit: Labneh made with goat milk and strained until it's dry enough to be dough-like: it's rolled into balls and stored in jars filled with olive oil, in which it can keep for years.

Loz akhdar: "Green almonds" gathered when the white at the center, which is usually salted and eaten, is still an unformed transparent jelly. The green velvety shell is still tender and a little sour. We make a little pile of salt and dip the almonds into it before eating them.

Ma'ane': Little hard sausages eaten with lemon and bread.

Man'oushe: A thyme mix on dough.

Me'te: Lebanese cucumber.

Meghle: A dessert usually made when there's a birth and offered to guests that come to congratulate the mother.

Mhallabye: A milk-based dessert, a bit like custard cream.

Saj: A metallic dome heated from within on which a specific kind of bread is made -- bread so thin it is transparent.

Shawarma: Another one that's popular in the whole world now.

Tabbouleh: Our national salad.

Lebanese Food set © Joumana Medlej, July 2003

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