Common Lebanese foods consist of a wide variety of grains, fruits, vegetables and spices, such as rice, lamb, pita bread, melons and tangerines. Famous Lebanese preparations include "tabbouleh," a salad of cracked wheat and herbs, and "baklava," a dessert famous for its honey, cinnamon and pistachio filling.
Lebanese chefs tend to prefer lighter protein sources, with less emphasis on beef and meat fats. For example, besides lamb, Lebanese people often incorporate poultry and seafood into their diets. Lebanese dishes are also usually lighter in character, with less reliance on sauces than on herbs and spices including mint, garlic, nutmeg, oregano and parley. Pita bread is served at virtually every meal and is considered central to Lebanese culture, so much so that some Arabic dialects refer to it as "esh," meaning "life itself."
Because of its positioning at a geographical crossroads, Lebanon and its cuisine have been influenced by several different cultures. Many nuts, pastries and yogurt preparations, for example, are lasting influences of the long period of Turkish rule in the region, whereas flans, custards and even croissants arrived with later French imperialists. Still other typical Lebanese foods are exemplary of the widely shared food culture of the Mediterranean, such as the chickpea puree "hummus," a dish found through the entirety of the Levant and North Africa.