When conflicts within the Middle East escalated, there was a heightened interest in that part of world. People sought to learn more about the Middle East and its culture. Museums worked to feed this new interest. Middle Eastern special exhibits and food festivals were also a big part of this. Below is a link to a video of a traditional Middle East food festival.

Different countries prefer different foods. The Syrians eat cuisines like pita bread and hummus. The Syrian food festivals celebrate fruits and like to blend them together. The Arabs like to eat yogurt and say it helps keep a balanced diet along with camel or goat to provide their diet with meat once in a while. But the most common food eaten today in the Middle East is Lamb. The Muslims like to eat lamb because they think it brings out the best flavor in everything it is eaten with. Muslims eat and drink all foods except pork and is products, and all types of alcoholic beverages as these are clearly prohibited in the Quran. Other animals should be slaughtered properly from the neck, while reciting: "In the name of God, God is Great". This way of killing is the least painful for the animal. Muslims are prohibited from eating anything that is dead, except sea creatures.

One of the foods commonly eaten at a Middle Eastern festival are stuffed grape leaves (Dolmas) the ingredients are:
1. jar of grape leaves.
1½ cups uncooked rice.
1 medium onion diced.
¼ cup olive oil.
2 cups water ½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh mint, chopped
¼ cup feta cheese, crumbled
½ cup of pine nuts.
½ cup of raisins
½ cup of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste.
In a saucepan, 1.sauté the onion in olive oil until light brown. 2. Add rice and brown lightly. 3. Add the water, salt, and pepper. 4.Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 5 to 7 minutes, or until water is absorbed but rice is only partially cooked. 5.Make certain rice does not stick or burn. 6. Add all the ingredients except the lemon juice and mix well. 7. Drain the grape leaves and place 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each leaf. 8. Fold the sides in and roll the leaf up. 9. Place stuffed leaves in a pot in even and tight rows covering the bottom of the pan. When the bottom layer is complete, start another layer. Continue rolling dolmas until all of the filling is used. 10. Add ½ of the lemon juice and enough water to cover half of the rolled leaves. 11. Place a plate on the top layer to hold the stuffed leaves down and to prevent them from unrolling while cooking. 12.Simmer over low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes. 13. Remove the plate and dolmas from the pan, drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, and serve. May be served warm or at room temperature. Serve with Yogurt and Mint Sauce.


Listed below are the ten most popular and widely recognized foods of the Middle East:

1. Hummus
Hummis is a mashed chickpea dip made with tahini, olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. It is an enticing appetizer, served with pita bread.
2. Tahini
Tahini is the foundation of many good Middle Eastern recipes. The paste can also be used as a spread on bread and crackers.
3. Falafel
Perhaps the most widely recognized Middle Eastern food is falafel. The fried balls made of chickpeas, onions and spices make for a tasy appetizer or light vegetarian meal. Falafel makes a great sandwich inside pita bread with veggies.
4. Tabouleh
Tabouleh is a salad that has a nice "kick". It makes a great alternative to a traditional salad; tabouleh is made of cracked wheat, mint, parsley and more.
5. Pita Bread
Pita bread is a staple in the Middle Eastern diet. It is served with just about every meal. Warm, toasted, stuffed, or dipped, pita bread is the most versatile food in Middle Eastern cooking. It's easy to make, too!
6. Baklawa
In the Middle East, baklava is called baklawa. The spelling may be different but the tastes are very similar. The Greeks use honey, while in the Middle East, orange blossom or rose water is used for the syrup. This delicious desert may be time consuming, but well worth the effort!
7. Baba Ghannouj
Baba ghannouj is a vegetarian favorite. It's smooth and creamy texture makes it ideal for dipping pita bread or vegetables.
8. Turkish Coffee
Turkish coffee is famed for its bold, rich taste. It has a hint a cardamom and is prepared carefully in an ibrik and allowed to sit a minute before serving to allow the coffee grains to fall to the bottom of the cup. According to a Turkish proveb "coffee should be black as hell, strong as death, and as sweet as love".
9. Foul Mudammes
Foul Mudammes is boiled fava beans with spices. Some people prefer them mashed, and foul is traditionally breakfast food eaten with pita bread.
10. **Turkish Delight**
Turkish Delight are sweet candies called lokum in the Middle East. Made from sugar and cornstarch, these candies are irresistible

Food is very important to the Middle Eastern culture because it brings families together and recipes are passed down through generations.

Sources: http://chetday.com/middleeasternfood.htm, http://www.foodbycountry.com/Germany-to-Japan/Iran.html