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A unique cultural history has helped to make Lebanese food the most popular of all Middle Eastern cuisines.
For most of its past, Lebanon has been ruled by foreign powers that have influenced the types of food the Lebanese ate.
From 1516 to 1918, the Ottoman Turks controlled Lebanon and introduced a variety of foods that have become staples in the Lebanese diet, including olive oil, fresh bread, baklava (a sweet pastry dessert), laban (homemade yogurt), stuffed vegetables, and a variety of nuts.
The Ottomans also increased the popularity of lamb.
Muslims (believers of Islam) celebrate several holidays throughout the year, though probably none are as important as the holiday of Ramadan.
Hummus (chickpea, sesame seed, and garlic paste), rice and meat wrapped in grape leaves, mashed beans, hot and cold salads, grilled seafood and meats (including kebabs , cooked cubes of lamb, peppers, and onions), and pickled vegetables are most popular.
Mint, parsley, oregano, garlic, allspice, nutmeg, and cinnamon are the most common seasonings.
Bread, a staple food in Lebanon, is served with almost every meal, most often as a flat bread, or pita.
It is so crucial to the Lebanese diet that some Arabic dialects refer to it as esh , meaning "life." Fruit, vegetables, rice, and bread out-weigh the amount of meat eaten in the average Lebanese meal.
However, the most commonly eaten meats, poultry and lamb, make up some of the country's most popular dishes.
Lebanon contains few rivers, and its harbors are mostly shallow and small, with polluted coastal waters.