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Role of food in Arab culture: Essay

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In Arabic countries, food is tightly connected with religious traditions and climate. Therefore people in Arab countries don’t eat pork and use a lot of spices. Arabs were always hospitable, and food was an integral part of this hospitality. Centuries-old traditions of Arabic cuisine and authentic recipes are passed from generation to generation.

Kuwaitis abstain from pork and alcohol because Islam prohibits their use. Deeply religious Kuwaitis are especially attentive to these prohibitions and do not eat any ready-made dishes if they are not sure what are the components of these dishes. In addition, it is very important to use the right method to slaughter an animal that is used as food. Permitted products are called “halal.” Halal food is defined in the Quran.

In the Arab Muslim countries (Algeria, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia), a religious tradition in cooking not only forbids eating pork, preferring lamb, goat, and veal but also determines a diet; for example, in the days of the fasting Muslims should eat twice a day: in the morning and evening before sunrise and after sunset. A characteristic feature of Arabic cuisine is the use of products such as lamb, veal, goat, poultry, beans, rice, vegetables, and fresh and canned fruits. Quite important in Arabic culture are fermented milk products, such as cheese. One of the most popular meat products in Arabic cuisine is undoubtedly considered to be roasted young lamb, which is stuffed with rice, raisins, almonds and various spices. In some countries, traditional meat dishes include such dishes as “kubba” (boiled or fried balls of meat or fish), lamb on the spit, and hotpot “yahni.”

Arabs also enjoy nutritious wheat or corn porridge called “bulgur.” It’s usually seasoned with fat and decorated with small pieces of meat. Another popular porridge is made of flour mixed with olive oil and cayenne pepper. A paste made of dates is often added to porridges.

Another important food-related tradition is connected with coffee. The process of its preparation and consumption is a complex ritual, usually associated with the reception of important guests. First, the coffee beans are roasted before being carefully hand-ground in a special mortar with a certain rhythm. Coffee is prepared only in brass or copper vessels. The ready-flavoured drink is usually served to guests in order of seniority in small cups. Coffee is offered to guests three times, after which, according to traditions, guests have to thank the owner and refuse. It is interesting that traditionally sugar is not used with coffee. However, herbs and spices like cardamom, cloves, nutmeg and saffron are often used.

It is also important to note that Ramadan which is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar. This month is the most important and honourable to Muslims. During the month, there is strict fasting which implies a refusal of food, water and sexual relations during daylight hours. Eating and drinking are permitted only after sunset and before sunrise. After evening prayers, it’s time for light food, usually dates, nuts, and dairy products. More heavy food is taken later. Shortly before sunrise, believers are awakened by a drumbeat so everyone could take a light breakfast. Fasting may is not obligatory for sick people, travellers, as well as pregnant women. According to Muslim theologians, in the days of Ramadan, Allah bestows rewards on the believer for every good deed committed by him. It is another example of how food plays a huge role in Arabic culture.

Kuwait itself has some unique features in food traditions. Historically, the region was inhabited by Bedouin tribes, and the culinary traditions of Kuwait are originally Arabic but with some differences. Bedouins were limited in food products due to difficult climate conditions. However, Kuwait is a unique place which has huge water resources. The waters of the Gulf are rich in fish and seafood, which play a significant role in the diet of local residents. In addition, Kuwait was located close to the sea trade routes from India to Europe. Therefore a variety of spices, herbs and seasonings are also used in Kuwait food.

Due to the hot climate, there are some methods of cooking which help to save more water in food. For example, there is a widely used method for the thermal processing of meat, like grilling large pieces in a hot pan without oil. In this case, a dense crust immediately appears on the surface of the meat, which prevents fluid loss. As a result, the dish turns out very juicy and tender.

It is obvious that Arabic culture is rich in traditions and food. Food, as well as traditions, are connected to religion. Therefore the process of eating food and the list of halal products is regulated by Quran. Most Arabs follow their traditions strictly. Arabic food and culture have reached our times in their original forms. That is why I find my culture and food an integral part of the world we are living in now.

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