The Syrian Cuisine 

       The Syrian cuisine is varied and rich, in view of the fertility of Syrian lands and the abundance of their crops which enable the cook to be a master and to diversify in his choice and talent in the preparation of fresh meals made of vegetables, legumes and meats.The Syrian table is always decorated with the various delicious pastries famous all over the world. Travelers do not miss to take with them on their leaving the country samples of these sweets to give them as presents to their dear friends and family members. These desserts are followed by fresh or dried fruits grown in Syrian fields.Health concern is also cared for through the Syrian fresh and pure mineral waters gushing from mountains tops.Syrian cuisine is delicious and well seasoned. Try some of the regional dishes when traveling throughout the country. (One place to sample many different dishes is the Omayyad Palace Restaurant in the Old City of Damascus – it offers an all-you-can-eat buffet.) Make sure an establishment looks clean before sitting down for a meal – while no guarantee of safety, it’s a good start. If others are doing so, eat with your fingers (but only use your right hand!). Syria is an Islamic country, so don’t expect to see pork on the menu. Meals consist primarily of rice, chicken and lamb, with many types of condiments, fresh and preserved fruit, fresh vegetables and a tasty flat, low-yeast bread. Almost every meal begins with meze, a large selection of hors d’oeuvres that can be a meal in themselves. Examples include hummus (chickpea paste seasoned with garlic and lemon juice), baba ghanouj (eggplant and sesame paste) and mouhammara (minced meat with onions and nuts, wrapped in breadcrumbs and oatmeal). Recommended main dishes include fattoush (a minty salad with baked or fried pita-bread crumbs), waraqainab (rice and raisins), farouge (roast chicken), shish taouk (skewered chicken), shawarma (a gyro-like roasted mutton) and burgol (boiled wheat dish). Save room for dessert – the sweets are excellent. Yogurt (the only dairy product that’s safe) is primarily a breakfast food, but Syrians also drink it mixed with water (make sure you trust the water supply) or make it into a cheese by salting and drying it. The strong Arabic coffee is often laced with cardamom, while Arak (the national liqueur) is flavored with aniseed. Juice bars are very common and offer a good opportunity to try exotic juices, such as pomegranate. The limeade is also very good. In the larger cities, there’s a fairly good selection of international (particularly Continental) and dancesfolk instrumentsThe representation of musicians was a popular theme in all artistic media throughout medieval Islam. On this enameled and gilded glass bottle of fourteenth century Syria, four men, who play (from left to right above) a Qanoon, a small ‘ud, a Riqq, and a Santoor are depicted.