I really look forward to the month of June, given it marks when my studies abroad began in 2012, my continued travels and a tasty tradition. While others are looking forward to their birthdays or Christmas, Hanukkah or whatever they are celebrating, June is my special month. No, it’s not the month of my birthday (that’s November), in case you were wondering, but it does mark my return to Seville and a reunion with all of my former classmates and marking where the magic used to happen.

The first day of our alumni reunion usually starts with a party (what else?). But on the second night, we continue an even cooler tradition: given everyone stays in some AirBnB location during this week, and we all have access to a more or less well equipped kitchen, we cook together! It makes sense for us to cook and share traditional meals from our countries of origin. This year was Aliza’s turn to lead the cook out. She is from Israel (Tel Aviv) and therefore prepared some delicious Levantine  food, like Baba Ghanoush, Falafel, Hummus, Smoked Moutabel and Shawarma. Levantine cuisine is the traditional food of the Levant, which covers a large area of the Eastern Mediterranean like Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Israel.  But it’s also influenced by Arabic tastes and spices.

Levantine Cuisine for Beginners

We’re all truly grateful that Aliza knows her cuisine so well, and while we’re devouring delicious, healthy mezes, she explained the typical features of her menu to us all. Usually, you don’t cook one dish, but instead offer up a small selection of dishes. These servings are called “Meze”.

Meze are often served as a part of multi-course meals; while in Greece and the Balkans they are consumed as snacks, while drinking and talking. What’s the best thing about it? Well, everyone can find something they like, whether you’re  a vegetarian, vegan, require gluten-free food or only eat meat! Levantine cuisine is a truly social tradition – you get together, try all these different dishes, chat, laugh and savour how delicious it all is. A real culinary jackpot!

Back home, I simply couldn’t forget this great experience. In order to provide my friends with a sample of it all, I tried to cook some of these dainty dishes, which turns out not be so difficult at all. You can buy the most important ingredients (like chickpeas, tomatoes or bell beans) in every major supermarket. And the best bit about it?

They come in cans!

So, I prepared some Hummus, Falafel and of course the Baba Ghanoush for my friends and you know what happened next: they now love it just as much as I do.

What was the most exotic food you ever tried? Tell us in the comments!

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