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The Pesky Middle East…

International Flavors Asia and the Middle East

Middle East Questionnaire

I recommend using the texts listed under Class Resources and located in the library office to complete this questionnaire. You may need to search elsewhere for the answers to a few of these questions.

  1. 1.       What countries make up the Middle East?

Bahrain

Cyprus

Egypt

Iran

Iraq

Israel

Jordan

Kuwait

Lebanon

Oman

Gaza Strip (not fully sovereign)

Palestinian Authority (not fully sovereign)

Qatar

Saudi Arabia

Syria

Turkey

United Arab Emirates

Yemen


  1. 2.     What is the difference between Middle Eastern foods/cuisine and kosher foods?

One of the biggest differences is the lack of restrictions on how Middle Eastern cuisine is prepared.  Kosher food has had a very big impact in the cuisine of the Middle East because of the large Jewish population that lives in the Middle East but at the same time not everyone is Jewish. There are many dishes served in the Middle East that have both meat and dairy served together like in moussaka where lamb and dairy (cheese) are served in a casserole style of dish.

  1. 3.     List 12 essential flavorings used in Middle Eastern cooking.

Cumin, Nutmeg, Tumeric, Cardamom, Aniseed, Caraway, Sumac, Baharat, Allspice, Cinnamon, Ginger, Dukkah, Mint, Parsley.

  1. 4.     Identify three “tools” or pieces of equipment used in Middle East cuisine.

Couscousiere- To cook a couscous dish, the tool used is called the Quadra wa Alkaskas or the couscousiere. It consists of two compartments. The vapors from the perforated lower compartment are allowed to rise to the upper part, thus enabling the steaming of couscous.

Tagine and Majmar- It is the traditional earthenware in which the food is cooked. The food prepared in this cookware is also referred to as the Tagine. A stew made of lamb or chicken that is simmered for a long time in a shallow pan with a conical lid is an example of a Tagine. The dish is placed on open fire or a bed of charcoals to heat it for prolonged durations. A charcoal brazier made up of terracotta is used to heat up the Tagine. This is called as the Majmar

Magraffa- It is a large ladle and is used for stirring, preparation and distribution of food as well. Traditionally it was made of wood, but nowadays a stainless steel, long, hand-held ladle can be useful for scooping, stirring and serving meals.

Rakwah Qahwah- It is a small coffee pot used to prepare Middle Eastern coffee. A must have equipment in an Middle Eastern kitchen; the Rakwah Qahwah has a long spout and is used for brewing coffee.

Hawan or Madaqqa- It is the Middle Eastern version of mortar and pestle used across various cultures. It is typically used to crush coffee, spices, nuts and herbs such as parsley, cilantro and garlic.

Sebkh- These are the Middle Eastern skewers made up of metal or a wood stick to hold pieces of food like kebabs together. These are used for grilling or roasting pieces of meat. Metal skewers are made of stainless steel and have a pointed end. The other end is used to grip the skewer and for removing the food. It is advisable to soak the skewer before using a wooden one. Usually a wooden skewer is made up of bamboo wood.

  1. 5.     What is the Fertile Crescent, where is it and why is it important?

The “Fertile Crescent” refers to an ancient area of fertile soil and important rivers stretching in an arc from the Nile to the Tigris and Euphrates. It covers Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq. The Mediterranean lies on the outside edge of the arc. To the south of the arc is the Arabian Desert. On the east, the Fertile Crescent extends to the Persian Gulf. Geologically, this corresponds with where Iranian, African, and Arabian tectonic plates meet. The term was first used by University of Chicago archaeologist James Henry Breasted.

The region was defined to be the cradle of civilization; it saw the development of many of the earliest human civilizations. Some of its technological inventions are writing, glass, and the wheel. The earliest known western civilizations arose and flourished using the water supplies and agricultural resources available in the Fertile Crescent.

  1. 6.     What is the primary carbohydrate used in the Middle East?

Bulgur Wheat is the main carbohydrate in the Middle East and has been used in the region for almost 4,000 years, or ever since people first settled in the Fertile Cresent.

  1. 7.     Identify three ways in which it is used.

Bulgur in the Middle East is served as a side dish, as an additive in breads, soups and even a few sweet applications.

  1. 8.     Identify a dish for each use listed above.

Side Dish- Tabbouleh- Cold Parsley and Bulgur Salad

Bread- No specific dish but it is usually added to the dough as a cooked product that helps add fiber and nutrients.

Soup- Ezogelin Corbasi- Turkish Red Lentil, Bulgur, and Mint Soup

Sweet- Bulgur Pudding with Honey and Dates

9.     How does religion impact the cuisine of the Middle East? Provide three examples.

Orthodox Christians- mainly in Egypt will fast many times a year based on the time of the calendar and the feasts and festivals of martyr and saints. During these times, dairy and all proteins are not able to be eaten. During Wednesdays, Fridays, and some fasts, fish is also banned.

Ramadan- People will fast from sun up to sun down and then will feast each night as a sign of respect.

The consumption of pork is barred in most religions in the Middle East including Islam, Judaism, and even some Christians because they have not acquired a taste for it even after converting.

10. What are the two primary proteins consumed in the Middle East?

Lamb and Chicken

11. Identify a popular dish for each protein.

Lamb- Tas Kebab – Lamb Stew

Chicken- Chicken Tagine

12.  Discuss three influences that have impacted the cuisine of the Middle East.

The discovery of fermentation was discovered in the Middle East and that led to the brewing of beer and the leavening of bread for the first time in history. It is also argued that without the discovery of beer/ bread leavening human history wouldn’t have turned out the way it has.

The invasion by the Ottoman Empire introduced the preparation of sweet pastries with phyllo dough and dense, sweet coffee. Coffee is now one of the staple beverages in the Middle East and dishes such as Baklava have been eaten in the Middle East for thousands of years.

Mongol invaders brought spices such as turmeric, cumin, garlic, cloves, peppercorns, and allspice.  This lead to the many different and unique flavors that is present in Middle Eastern Cuisine.

13.  List three eating habits prevalent in the Middle East.

      Chai Tea, coffee, and a snack of figs are always served to guests but hosts my present more if they feel the need to.

It is customary for the guest to try some of every dish that is presented.

There is usually a common plate served with pita and other breads that people will serve themselves from rather than having plates and silverware.

14.  What are mezze?

Mezze are a selection of small dishes served in the Mediterranean and Middle East as dinner or lunch, with or without drinks. In Levantine cuisines and in the Caucasus region, meze is served at the beginning of all large-scale meals. Mezze can also be called tapas, Banchan, and Dim sum; by other cultures around the world.

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