Libyan Food & Drink

Libyan Food & Drink Last updated on Thursday 22nd April 2010

Libyan cuisine is a mixture of Arabic and Mediterranean, with a strong Italian influence.

Italy's legacy from the days when Libya was an Italian colony can be seen in the popularity of pasta on its menus, particularly macaroni.

A famous local dish is couscous, which is a boiled cereal (traditionally millet, now fairly often wheat) used as a base for meat and potatoes. The meat is usually mutton, but chicken is served occasionally.

Sherba is a highly-spiced Libyan soup.

Bazin, a local speciality is a hard paste, made from barley, salt and water.

Dates, oranges, apricots, figs and olives are all readily available.

Libyans prefer to eat at home, except on Fridays, when they enjoy family beachside picnics. For the most part, restaurants and cafes are used by foreigners. Menus do not vary greatly, and local offerings consist mostly of meat and vegetables with couscous or macaroni. International cuisine is available in the larger hotels.

Cafes opening hours outside the capital are somewhat limited, and most eating-houses close by 9pm.

All alcoholic drink is banned in Libya, in accordance with the laws of Islam. Local 'brews' are available, but are strictly illegal and likely to be of poor quality. These should therefore be avoided.

Bottled mineral water is widely consumed, as are various soft drinks. Fruit juices, particularly orange, can be bought in season from street stalls. Local tap water is not recommended, as it has a slightly brackish taste.

Libyan tea is a thick beverage served in a small glass, often accompanied by mint or peanuts. Regular American/British coffee is available if you ask for Nescafé.

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