The history of Libya has had an impact on shaping its traditional food, starting with its indigenous population "Tamazight" to the different rulers, travelers and neighbors, which all had their great influence; the geographical diversity also had its role in enriching the culture and tradition of Libyan food. Food could talk history, cost differences of traditional Libyan food tells the vicissitudes of history and its effect on people's life.
In general, Libyan cuisine can be split into three categories: the coastline, which approaches the Mediterranean culture, the south represents the desert culture, in addition to the mountain region, which offer their own blend of mountainous nature, despite this diversity, all regions share the common rules of preparation, and the art of catering.
Food in Libya means more than just eating, it is a way of socializing, and it has its role in social events and religious festivals, by getting together with family, relatives and friends.
Libyan dishes as North Africa's region are often coloured and flavoured with a hot spice mixture. One of the most characteristic dishes of the region is couscous, bearing in mind that each country offers its own blend.
You could find couscous in almost every kitchen cupboard in a Libyan home, despite couscous is incredibly popular in Libya, and some consider it as the national dish of the country, the closed door policy imposed by the former regime, including lack of participation in international festivals to introduce their heritage in all its forms, made couscous usually attributed to neighboring countries without pointing to Libya.
Couscous is a steamed small-grained semolina, served with stew, it is one of the top dishes served in weddings and big occasions, the dish is ancient, mentioned by the medieval traveler Ibn-Battuta, it was even passed to Mediterranean territories like Spanish and Italian cuisine, and some parts of Spain still share the tradition of having couscous as a main dish at weekends.
Amongst the most distinctive foods of Libyan cuisine is Basin. Basin is identified by its special pyramid shape. It is prepared by boiling the barley flour in water until it ripens and then it is molded in to a pyramid shape. It could be served with a wide variety of stews including meat stew, which is usually presented in special occasions, bean and legume sauce, sour milk besides other kind of stews. This dish expresses the Libyan lifestyle of eating healthfully.
Italian cuisine has its touch on Libyan dishes the most popular and widely spread is Pasta presented in different ways. One of Libyan favorite is Rishda, a homemade pasta cooked with dried salted meat, legume and herbs.
Usban is another top Libyan dish. It is the must-have meal undisputed! Usually served in Eid and special occasions.
Simplicity along with coloured and unique flavor make traditional Libyan dishes worth trying.