It’s no secret that Lebanese cuisine is one of the most sophisticated and distinguished in the world. Lebanon is famous for its delicious and nutritious savory dishes, the recipes of which have been passed down through the years, resisting the test of time, from generation to generation, establishing the glory of the cedars as a culinary masterpiece.
Meals served on Christmas Eve are no exception. In Lebanon, Christmas is a religious family celebration: every year, everybody gathers around a table to witness a gastronomic feast.
Warning: Expect to gain weight!
Firstly, a staple: the Lebanese mezze
. You will surely be greeted with a table garnished with the best Lebanese delicacies, consisting of more than fifty different appetizers, ranging from the classic hummus
(a simple but delicious chickpea paste with tahini, lemon juice, and salt) to the amazing tabbouleh
, the astounding warak aarich
, or the succulent baba ghanouj
– accompanied by a cup of arak
(an alcoholic beverage made out of grapes and anise). All of this making you wonder where and how to start. Indeed, the mezze
is much more than food; it’s a social activity that reunites all the family for this special night.
In traditional Lebanese homes, Christmas dinner is never complete without a cup of meghleh
. It is a fine rice pudding cooked with sugar and several spices (especially cinnamon) and decorated with layers of coconut powder, almonds, walnuts, and dried raisins.
This traditional dessert is usually prepared to celebrate the birth of a child, and since Christmas is the remembrance of Jesus’s birth, it is a great time for us to rejoice with our blessed mother Mary by preparing this sweet dish, thus welcoming the newborn into our family and into our hearts, where he will be carried for the whole year to come.
A real treat for the taste buds, and really a time to remember!
Johnny Abboud is a Lebanese shipping agent, father of five, and devout Catholic consecrated to the Blessed Virgin’s heart.