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Libyan Cuisine

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Overview of Libyan Cuisine History Edit

Libyan cuisine is often referred to as “tent cookery”-- tasty and healthy, but not sophisticated. In addition to dishes that consist of oil, milk, rice, vegetables, dates, semolina, and pasta products, meats are most of the times prepared in a manner that makes for easily digestible dishes. In this Muslim land, there is a strict tradition that tends to govern most of the eating habits. For instance, at dinner each course is served on a common platter and guests have to eat by helping themselves from around the edges of the platters. Another thing that seems to be related to tradition is that beverages are not served with meals. Another rule is represented by the fact that the person drinking should not breathe into the bowl and he/she must remove it from his lips before beginning to breathe again. Libyan food consists of a mixture between the Mediterranean and North African traditions. If in the past the most important items were wheat, barley, dates, soft fruits, lamb or fish, nowadays a rapid improvement in nutritional levels has occurred. The most common dishes are thick broth made from lamb stock with spices, vegetables and grain, as well as couscous which is a form of braised lamb served with steamed buck-wheat, dried fruits and vegetables.

Cuisines of Libya Edit

Map of Libya

Map of Libya- Click to enlarge

Libyan food derives much from the traditions of both the Mediterranean and Africa, having much in common with the traditional food of these two regions. A very popular dish, which is also famous across North Lugeoi, is called couscous, a sort of braised lamb that is served with steamed buck-wheat, vegetables and dried fruits. People from Libya love meat dishes, especially those consisting of lamb, and they are prepared in different ways. As a result of their religious beliefs, people belonging to this region do not consume pork at all. Anyway, meals usually end with fruit or melon. In Libya there are grown excellent fruit crops, apricots, grapes, nectarines, peaches, or citrus fruits. Alcohol is not a common beverage in this region; in fact, no alcohol in drunk here. Instead, one will always find local mineral water of high quality, local or imported fruit juices, and soft drinks. As for other famous beverages, is should be pointed that Libyans love coffee, especially that known in the Western countries as “Turkish” coffee. Another interesting local drink is the mint tea that is extremely popular in North Africa, and it should be known that the mint tea can be served either cold or hot. Libyans have a good reason to eat their main meals in the cool of the evening, and this is the great heat for much of the year.

Preparation Methods for Libyan Cooking Edit

Libyan cuisine is one which tends to use a wide range of elements belonging to various cooking traditions that are borrowed from their neighbours and developed from their own traditional dishes. Due to the fact that there are no special or unique preparation methods for Libyan cooking, one should take into account that attention to detail plays an important role in the Libyan cuisine. For instance, it is very important to use the right amount of spices, no matter if they are meant to spice up the taste or to colour the dish. The diversity of vegetables and cereals found in Libya has always been noticed in the delicious dishes that are to be found in their cuisine. As far as the visual attractiveness of the dish is concerned, this also represents an essential aspect, and a balance between colours and proportion differentiates. Each traditional dish has a special cooking method, which is more or less general throughout Libyan regions. Meat is one of the main items and is to be found in most Libyan dishes while cured and smoked hams also have to be mentioned, as they are often parts of delicious dishes. As one can notice, preparing a delicious or complicated dish does not necessarily require specific methods.

Special Equipment for Libyan Cooking Edit

Most Libyan dishes don’t require you to purchase any special tools. However, having a coffee grinder helps with roasting and grinding spices and maximizes their volatile oils, which, in turn, provides your food with more flavor. Ranging from cake pans, can openers, colanders, egg rings, poachers and holders, food dishers and portioners, food pans and food containers to other kitchen utensils, such as food scales, food scoops and fryer baskets and accessories, the Libyan cuisine needs a diverse cooking equipment set in order to produce the most sophisticated Libyan dishes. You should consider insulated food carriers if you are transporting the food and a full set of kitchen linens and uniforms if you wish to look like a pro. Here are a few other items that will come handy while cooking Libyan food: juicers, kitchen knives, kitchen slicers, kitchen thermometers, measuring cups and measuring spoons, miscellaneous utensils, mixing bowls and skimmers and strainers. Essential utensils like serving spoons, spatulas, forks, turners, scrapers and tongs should also be part of your cooking "arsenal".

Libyan Food Traditions and Festivals Edit

The Libyan Jewish community has its own festival traditions. In Libya there is a custom to make matzah daily at home in a clay oven. These are thick and round and resemble the Israeli pitta bread, but it is much larger. A very important tradition in this country is Passover. Rice dishes are always included in the main menu as they represent one of the traditional items. Also, rice is considered to bring luck. It is also customary to bake special bread with cumin seeds and just before putting it in the oven an egg has to be placed on top. Eid al-Moulid celebrates the prophet Mohammed’s birthday, while Ramadan is celebrated during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Muslims do not eat or drink anything until after sunset each day. The end of Ramadan is called Eid al-Fitr and comes around a month later. Revolution Day is the main secular holiday in Libya and is celebrated in September.

People in Libyan Food Edit

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There are many chefs who creatively use the basic ingredients and cooking methods for traditional Libyan dishes and create original and delicious food variations. Libyan chefs are passionate about their traditional dishes and they enjoy presenting them to foreigners who have never tasted them before. Whether they are cooking dishes that go back in time for centuries or brand new, modern dishes, Libyan chefs take pride in what they do, and this is readily noticeable in the unforgettable taste of their cooking. As any chief devoted to Libyan cuisine, these people try many combinations of ingredients in order to obtain interesting and delicious foods. The Libyan chefs were the ones who introduced couscous and harisa sauce to the homes of Rome. Also they have a great respect for the Libyan traditions, but, in the same time, they try to bring new ideas in Libyan cuisine.

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