The Art of the Lebanese Twist

When it comes to the Lebanese claim to fame, it’s arguably our cuisine that puts us on the map. Excelling in the kitchen is second nature to most of us, not only when we’re slaving over rustic dishes. We also get a kick out of adapting foreign foods to our local palates. Sure, we enjoy pizza, burgers, and fries as much as the next person, but we won’t pass up an opportunity to inject them with our very own special touch.

Creative or just plain ludicrous? Let your taste buds be the judges!

  1. There’s the Americana burger the whole world strives to emulate, and then there’s the Lebanese burger. What’s the difference, you inquire? Take note. To begin, the bun is typically oversized, fluffy and studded with sesame seeds. Hollow out the top to make room for the coleslaw – space efficiency at its finest! Swap the beef patty with kafta-esque meat hammered down to a half-centimeter thickness (or thinness, rather). Fries and ketchup? Sure, just stuff them in there with the rest of the assembly. And voila, you’ve got one free hand to text as you chomp. Photo 1

  1. Looking to overload on carbs? Here’s a genuinely Lebanese thought: take a handful of fries and wrap it inside pita bread. To help wash it down (it can become rather starchy), add creamy coleslaw, generous heaps of aioli, ketchup, and pickles. The “sandwich batata” is a cherished fixture of our fast food scene. Hey, at least your fingers don’t get greasy! Photo 2

  1. Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned pizza pie? Round flat dough, zesty tomato sauce with oregano, fresh mozzarella, and basil form the quintessential Italian margherita. On the contrary, a Lebanese pizza might substitute ketchup for tomato sauce and introduce an assortment of vegetables like corn and black olives. Sounds more Southwestern Tex-Mex than Lebanese, but hey, we’re an all-inclusive country. And isn’t fusion cuisine the latest trend? Photo 3

  1. Just as the Italians stuff their croissants with distinctly Italian ricotta, the Lebanese call on their favorite herb blend: zaatar. The croissant au thym is as marvelous creation, merging France’s buttery crescent-shaped pastry with the Middle East’s versatile thyme-sesame combo. If you really want to do it justice, elevate each bite with a spoonful of labneh. Sahtein! Photo 4

  1. In the US, home of the pancake, you won’t find much else besides butter and maple syrup to top off a fluffy stack. Indeed, the cousin to the crêpe is simple and free of airs: don’t mistake it for a gourmet high tea affair slathered with jam and cream. In Lebanon, however, it’s common to smear a pancake with Nutella and then dress it up with whipped cream like an ice cream sundae. Sometimes, you’ll even find it drowning in fudge and decked with chocolate chips and sprinkles! We’ve verily transformed the pancake from breakfast to dessert. Photo 5

Contributed by Danielle Issa from

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