Desert culture and Islamic Imperialism combine to create dishes from the region that are beloved all over the world. The Fertile Crescent, which includes the country between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, was the first place where wheat was grown, followed by rye, barley, lentils, beans, pistachios, figs, pomegranates, dates, and other regional staples. Domestication of sheep, goats, and cattle was also practiced in the area. Fermentation was also found in Mesopotamia and the Levant, where it was used to leaven bread and produce beer. In addition, it is from that region that the first documented recipes originated. It has been a hotspot of culinary and recipe interchange at a crossroads connecting Europe, Asia, the Caucasus, and North Africa. Rice, chicken, and fruits were introduced into the local diet during the first Persian Empire, laying the groundwork for current Middle-Eastern cuisine. Merchants transported figs, dates, and nuts to conquered areas, as well as spices from the Orient. Dumplings from Mongol conquerors, saffron and other spices from India, peppercorn and allspice from the Spice Islands, okra from Africa, and tomato from the New World all affected the region. Because neither Jews nor Muslims consume pork, religion has influenced the food by keeping lamb the principal meat. Although the Qur’an condemns alcohol usage, wine is produced in Lebanon, in internationally recognized vineyards. Al-Maza is Lebanon’s main brewery, and it used to be the only one in the Middle East. Iran was known for its wine making before the 1979 political change. Sweet pastries were brought to the Ottoman Empire. Food from the Middle East makes use of a variety of spices, and there are many different subtypes of Middle Eastern cuisine worth exploring.
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