Syrian food is a mix of many cuisines from the influx of various civilizations that have settled in Syria over many centuries, particularly during and after the Islamic era, continuing with Persian-influenced Abbasids and ending with the strong influences of Turkish cuisine from the Ottoman Turks. It is now similar to other Levantine cuisines such as Lebanese, Palestinian and Jordanian. Turkish and Lebanese cuisines are strongly recognizable in the flavors of Syria.
All Syrian food should be eaten with Syrian bread (pita).Use the bread to wipe your dish clean or open it and scoop up the food.
Meat is a major food usually either minced or in small pieces on skewers marinated. There are also superb meatless meals “syamee” for the health conscious
Spices play a pivotal role in their cuisine, particularly those used in the spice mixes “za’atar” and “baharat”. The former is a mix of dried thyme and sumac which is rubbed onto grilled meat, sprinkled onto bread or mixed with yoghurt for breakfast. “Baharat” (which is is endemic to Syrian cuisine) is made up of more ingredients, including cardamom, cassia, cloves, coriander, cumin and dried chilies, but is used in similar ways. Yoghurt, chick peas, olives, garlic, lemon, eggplant and fresh herbs such as parsley and mint also play a central role in Syrian cuisine
Syrian dishes are created to be shared, placed in the centre of the table and enjoyed as part of a big group, this is known as ‘meze’ dining. It is food to be tasted over an hour or two and reflects the Syrian culture of hospitality and generosity, where everything to do with food is presented on a large scale.
A typical Syrian breakfast consists of some combination of sliced cucumber, Syrian cheese, olives, pita, perhaps toasted. Syrian cheese, and melon is also served. Aromatically flavored “za'atar” bread can also be accompanied by olives and string cheese. The beverage of choice in the morning and throughout the day would be “ah'weh turkieh”, a thick espresso heavily flavored with sugar.
Syria has many famous desserts especially the sweets filled with nuts, clotted cream “ashta”, sugar syrup and hints of rosewater and orange blossom water. Damascus Rose (baked filo pastry filled with “ashta”, then drizzled with syrup and crushed nuts), is particularly popular. Almost all Syrian pastries can be eaten by hand.
Desserts are usually served with Turkish coffee often followed by “Arat”, a strong Anisette liqueur.