Lebanon is generally a mountainous country and also consists of a long narrow coastal strip, plains, and valleys. Its surrounded by Israel from the south, Syria from the north and east, and the Mediterranean Sea from the west.
The Ottoman Turks controlled Lebanon from around the early 1500s up until the end of World War I. This resulted in Lebanon has a lot of influence from the Ottoman Turks in terms of traditional food. They introduced many things that eventually became staples in the Lebanese cuisine such as lamb, bread, nuts, olive oil, Laban(which is a type of yogurt), baklava and others. After World War I, the French took control over Lebanon. They introduced mostly desert types of food like different types of croissants and flan. This explains why a lot of the native people in Lebanon also speak French besides Arabic.
The unique thing about Lebanese food is its very healthy and tastes delicious at the same time. A thing I noticed about Lebanese cuisine is that there is always a good amount of salad, vegetables included in every single meal. One of the healthiest is called Tabbouleh. It is basically Lebanese salad which is made up of bulgur, parsley, tomatoes, mint, olive oil, lemon juice. I usually eat it pieces of lettuce and its one of my favorites. When I visited Lebanon, I found Tabbouleh sitting right next to every meal I had.
Lebanon has the four seasons of summer, fall, winter, and spring. There are times where you can ski in the mountains and the same day you can go down and swim in the Mediterranean Sea. Lebanon has a Mediterranean climate where crops like olives, grapes, oranges, apples, lemons, limes, bananas, and wheat grow. That is why the Lebanese are on a Mediterranean diet and use Mediterranean staples in their cuisine.
Lebanon is made up of two main religions. There are Christians (Maronite, Greek Orthodox, and Armenian Orthodox), and Muslims (Shiite and Sunni). Each has their own traditions when it comes to holidays and games, the food they have for those holidays. In some ways, the two religions are similar when celebrating their holidays in Lebanon, but in many ways they are different.
In Lebanon, Christians celebrate their holidays, Christmas and Easter. They usually snack on nuts and almonds before they prepare chicken or turkey for lunch on Christmas. They also cut up orange peels into different shapes and decorate the Christmas tree with them. For Easter, Christians in Lebanon have hard boiled eggs in the morning and before eating the eggs, they would play a game called Biis Biis. Its where each person has a hard-boiled egg and then try to break the other persons egg from the top and bottom. The person who is left with an unbroken egg wins. I myself have played it many times on Easter over the years, its pretty fun.
Muslims celebrate their most important holiday, Ramadan. They wake up before the sun rises by the sound of a man beating a drum in the streets and they start eating an early breakfast that consists of pita bread, hard boiled eggs, olive oil, Laban, and tea. After that, they dont eat or drink anything until the sun has fully set. Then they gather together where they kill and eat a delicious meal of sheep. Some Muslims donate a part of their sheep to the poor at that time.
There are multiple dishes from Lebanon that I love. A favorite of mine is called Sabanekh. It consists of spinach, lamb, onion, garlic, coriander, water, salt, oil, and lemon juice. It served with a side of white rice. This is a perfect example of a healthy dish that tastes amazing. Its often eaten with pita bread. In my experience, you dip the pita bread and grab the spinach and meat with the bread, and then eat with the rice. Though, for this dish, you need to make sure to wash the spinach thoroughly to avoid Kidney Stones in the future.
Another traditional favorite is called Makloubeh. Its another healthy dish that consists of cauliflower, cubed lamb meat, rice, pine nuts, onion, and salt. You cook it in a pot and when its done, you lift the pot up and flip it fast upside down onto a big tray (thats how my family does it). You eat it with pita bread and dip like in the previous dish, Sabanekh. The ingredient that stands out the most is the cauliflower, very healthy yet so delicious. This food is great with a drink called Arak. Its a licorice also known as Ouzo. Its good to drink sips of it in between bites with the food.