From Malta’s sultry souks to Lebanon’s traditional baked dishes, this cookbook celebrates the region’s rich Mediterranean culinary heritage. It includes 80 recipes, distilled for the modern home cook.
Human rights activist Khan curates this journey through Palestinian cuisine. Recipes like Musakhan and Maqlubeh showcase her inventive blending of Middle Eastern flavors with international cooking techniques.
The Ancient Greeks
The ancient Greeks were a group of separate, yet culturally and linguistically connected city-states. Their unique lifestyles helped to shape the modern world in a variety of ways including art, philosophy, sports and politics.
They were skilled seafarers and traders who created some of the most impressive temples in antiquity. They also wrote some of the earliest Western texts like Hesiod’s Iliad and Homer’s Odyssey.
The Greeks also had a unique social structure. They were a highly mobile people and lived as part of a network of city-states called poleis. These urban poleis were ruled by hereditary kings and wealthy aristocrats. Social tensions were eased through the celebration of holidays such as Kronia, a summer festival that celebrated a mythical Golden Age before agriculture and slavery. It was similar to the Roman holiday Saturnalia. Gift giving was another common tradition in ancient Greece.
As the Romans expanded their empire, they embraced foreign cultures and imported ingredients. Food was abundant, and meals served at feasts showcased a host’s wealth and social status. The cuisine was largely vegetarian, but at feasts meat dishes were popular as well. Partridge and peacock were often featured, as were other exotic meats. Vinegar, honey and a fermented fish sauce called garum were commonly used seasonings.
The first course, known as mulsum or apum, was light, often consisting of eggs and vegetables. The main course, the prima mensa, was where hosts really got to show off their opulence. Some feasts even included centuries-old wine. The final course was the secunda mensa, or sweet dishes. This was the time to enjoy imported fruits and nuts as well as spices. This course was typically accompanied by passum, a sweet raisin wine.
The Middle East
From hummus to falafels, the Middle East is home to many popular dishes that have become staples in our dining culture. It is also where the practice of halal, the Muslim prohibition against pork, was introduced and where vegetarianism is prevalent.
The area was also where the first wheat, barley and rye were cultivated, as well as lentils, beans, figs, dates and pistachios. It is also where the discovery of fermentation was made. This has allowed for the creation of such dishes as dumplings, stuffed vegetables and kebabs. Meals often include a salad, appetizers and dip-like spreads, heaps of bread and bowls of olives, nuts and dates. After a meal, tea or coffee and dessert are served. It is a region steeped in tradition and hospitality.
The Renaissance, which began in the 14th century in Italy and spread throughout Europe, saw a revival of classical art inspired by Greek and Roman culture. The cultural movement was also marked by a renewal of interest in ancient writings.
For the upper classes, food became an elaborate spectacle. Cooks in northern Italian courts experimented with exotic ingredients brought back by explorers, while aristocratic hosts threw lavish feasts featuring exotic dishes and extravagant tableware.
Peasants, on the other hand, had a more restricted diet. Meat was difficult to procure and often only available on occasion since it needed salt to be preserved. Peasants also feared disease and avoided foods deemed unclean such as melons and cucumbers. The Renaissance also saw the development of cookbooks and a renewed interest in culinary theory. Early dietary authors sought to link humoral physiology with eating habits.
The Age of Exploration
This era, which ran from the 1400s to around 1600s, saw European nations assert their power like never before. This was a time of technological innovations and a yearning for expanded trade. If you want to explore and learn more about dining, check out DiningFAQs.
For generations, sailors had stayed close to land and traveled known routes between ports. But Prince Henry the Navigator encouraged them to expand their horizons and discover new routes to Africa.
These explorers brought deadly diseases to new places and wiped out entire populations of indigenous people. They also imported slaves to work excruciating jobs and live as property until they died. The Age of Exploration connected humanity in a way never before seen but at a tremendous cost. The song East to West by contemporary Christian band Casting Crowns tells one of those stories.
The Age of Discovery
The Age of Exploration is a broad period of history from the 15th through the 17th century in which European nations began exploring and colonizing regions around the world. This period is also known as the Age of Sail and involved many naval voyages.
The explorations of this era resulted in the wide transfer of plants, animals, foods, communicable diseases and culture between the Old and New Worlds. This is known as the Columbian Exchange and it had significant impacts on both the world’s cuisines and its cultures.
While it is true that the explorers of this era increased our knowledge of flora, fauna and topographies throughout the world, their work often came at the expense of indigenous communities and values. The Age of Exploration, and especially Columbus’ ‘discovery’ of America, did more harm than good.
The Age of Exploration in the Americas
The exploration of the Americas by European explorers had an enormous impact on their food culture. The introduction of diseases like smallpox devastated indigenous populations in North and South America. The influx of new plants, animals and crops also impacted people around the world.
Prior to the arrival of European settlers, the only domesticated animals in the Americas were llamas and alpacas. European settlers introduced sheep, goats, cattle, horses, and pigs to the Americas, drastically changing food habits and enabling the development of agricultural practices.
The term “east-to-west” is an important geographical concept that describes the direction in which the sun rises and sets. It’s the underlying theme of many directional concepts, including movement and migration of people, ideas, and objects. This directional concept is crucial in geography and understanding our global landscape.
The Age of Exploration in Asia
During the early 1500s, one of the most important motivating factors in Europe’s Age of Exploration was the search for a sea route to Asia. This was prompted by economic and political concerns, including the growing demand for exotic spices in Europe that could not be met through the overland routes.
Europeans weren’t alone in their quest to access Asia. The Ming Dynasty in China was already exploring the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf, and East Africa with its Treasure Fleet ships – a full decade before Columbus sailed to the Americas.
In our studies, tourists from high UAI cultures accompanied by friends show greater interest in consuming local novel and inexpensive cuisines. In addition, they discuss topics such as beef, set, and price in more depth than those who travel alone. This suggests that social dimensions, like collectivistic culture, influence tourist culinary consumption.
The Age of Exploration in Africa
The Age of Exploration in Africa was a time of discovery for Europeans as they began to explore the vast continent of Africa. For many, their exploration aims were primarily commercial—they wanted to find a sea route around Africa to Asia for trade in valuable Asian spices.
During their journeys, explorers were aided by Africans who served as guides, envoys, servants, and laborers. Some explorers, such as the Scottish explorer James Bruce, searched for the source of the Nile River during his daring travels through Africa in 1768-71.
In the 19th century, the movement to abolish slavery refocused attention on Africa, while scientific curiosity led to new explorations of its interior. In particular, explorers focused on Western Africa’s great river systems and the city of Timbuktu. They determined that the Niger River, for example, flowed eastward rather than westward as had been previously thought.
The Age of Exploration in Europe
The Age of Exploration in Europe, lasting from the 1400s to the early 1600s, saw new European assertions of power that hadn’t occurred since the Crusades. European nations had technological innovations and a desire to expand trade with Africa, Asia, and the Americas.
They also had a new-found confidence in their naval prowess. Building on older technology, Europeans had developed Arab rig lateen sails that allowed them to change direction and rely less on the Sun and stars for navigation. Also, they had refined keels and sternpost-mounted rudders that stabilized their ships at sea. They also used compasses that allowed them to orient themselves toward north and south even when clouds blocked the Sun or stars. This newfound confidence fueled explorations that would eventually lead to the discovery of America. This era was marked by more elaborate food presentations including dishes served on trays, in bowls and tureens with accompanying deserts in lurid colors.