The Middle East is located in south-western Asia, between Europe and North Africa. It is an area that has suffered from a number of wars, sometimes devastating the countries that lie in the beautiful area. The cuisine in the Middle East ranges from light, tasty fares to heavier, more filling foods. Some of the ingredients that are used in a majority of the countries include sesame seeds, chickpeas, pitas and honey.
Some countries in the Middle East, such as Egypt, prefer to eat savory foods that are full of herbs and spices. Lamb is a protein that is often used in the Middle East as it is plentiful. Many of the cultures mix sweet foods with lamb in order to dilute the gamey taste a bit. Vegetables are also used frequently in Middle Eastern cuisine. In Israel and in Egypt, vegetables such as eggplant or peppers are stuffed with mixtures, such as rice and beef or rice and beans. Beans, such as fava beans, are used as a base for many dishes. In Egypt fava beans are mashed and mixed with garlic and olive oil in order to make a dish called ful medames, which is eaten in the morning.
Pita bread is eaten quite often in the Middle East. It is a soft bread that is shaped in a circle. The center is hollow, and when the bread is cut in half, a pocket is opened and ingredients are stuffed into the pocket. This makes the sandwich very easy to make and enjoy. Many Middle Eastern countries use the pita to put falafel in. Falafel is a meat product that is often eaten as a quick meal or snack. Pitas were first created in the Middle East but have since become used throughout the world. Some cultures stuff deli meats into the pocket while others prefer vegetables or tuna fish.
Couscous is another dish that is found in a majority of the Middle Eastern countries. Couscous is a dish that is created when small wheat granules are coated in wheat flour. The granules are then steamed in either water or a flavored broth. There are a number of ways that this dish can be served. Some countries serve it plain while other countries mix vegetables or meat, such as lamb, into the dish before serving. Couscous has also become popular in the West where it is available to purchase in a box mix.
Fast food is available to purchase in the Middle East. Some countries have fast food stands, such as McDonalds, that are available to eat in, while others rely on outdoor vendors. Most of these vendors are extremely sanitary, but tourists should always insist that the food is created in front of them so that they know that the food they are eating is fresh. Kebobs are often found at roadside vendors, as are falafel sandwiches.