Because the workday begins early, breakfast is usually served at about 6:00 a.m. It is light, consisting of olives, cheese, yogurt and coffee. Lunch is the biggest meal of the day. People eat after 1 PM and then rest before going back to work. Lunch often begins with appetizers, followed by fish or lamb stew, salads, cooked vegetables, bread and fruit. Many people eat without using cutlery; instead, they hold a piece of bread in the right hand and use it to scoop up the food. Dinner is served late in the evening and is usually light, except during Ramadan and on special occasions.
Common dishes include matchbous (spiced lamb with rice), hareis (slow-cooked wheat and tender lamb) and seafood served with seasoned rice. Some favorite desserts include a type of bread pudding called umm Ali (literally “Mother of Ali”), a sweet cheesecake with a cream topping called esh asaraya (meaning “bread of the harem”) and pudding made with rosewater and pistachios, called mehalabiya.